A convoy of vehicles carrying Qatari officials was the target of a suicide bombing attack today in the Somalian capital of Mogadishu.
According to Reuters, the officials had been traveling in the Somali interior minister’s bullet-proof vehicle and are “safe.” The minister was not in the car. However, at least eight Somalis were killed and several more injured, the newswire added.
On Twitter, journalist Hamza Mohamed said many of those who were killed had been traveling in civilian cars. He also posted photos of some of the vehicles hit by the blast:
— Hamza Mohamed (@Hamza_Africa)
Somalia is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world due to two decades of strife and instability in governance.
UPDATE | 5:23pm
According to AP, Mohamed Abdi, an officer at the scene of the blast, said four civilians and a soldier died immediately. Two people died in the hospital and some 18 were being treated for their wounds, said Dr. Duniya Mohamed Ali at the Medina hospital.
The Islamist rebel group al Shabaab told Reuters that it was responsible for the attack, calling the Somali government a “puppet” of Western powers:
“More explosions are on the way,” al Shabaab’s military spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters by telephone…
“The car bomb targeted delegates from Qatar. They are safe,” Hassan Osman, a security official said, adding that the minister’s car was damaged in the blast.
The purpose of the delegation’s visit to Somalia is not immediately clear, though AP reports the Qataris are involved “in development projects in Mogadishu,” quoting Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud.
In March, the president met with the Heir Apparent in Doha to seek Qatar’s help in reaching a “national reconciliation.” His visit sparked concerns among some Somalis that Qatar will be given some control over the country’s natural oil and gas resources.
Qatar-affiliated charities are also among the few aid groups that continue to operate in Somalia, after many other international charities pulled out over rebel attacks on workers.
State news agency QNA has posted an article about the blast on its website, but did not mention Qatar’s connection to it.
UPDATE | May 6, 2013
Close to 1am on Monday, QNA reported that the Emir received a phone call from the Somali president apologizing for the attack, which Qatar condemned, and assuring him the Qatari delegation is safe.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Bartamaha.com