Somali capital Mogadishu rocked by huge explosion: Witnesses

At least five people killed and 23 others injured in blast claimed by al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab armed group.

At least five people have been killed after a large explosion rocked Somali capital Mogadishu in the early hours on Thursday, witnesses and officials have said.

The blast near the K4 junction in the heart of the city triggered a plume of smoke, witnesses said, adding that they heard sounds of gunfire.

“So far we know five people died and 23 others (were) injured,” Abdikadir Abdirahman, the director of Aamin Ambulance services, told Reuters.

Mohamed Hussein, a nurse at the nearby Osman Hospital, told Reuters that they “were shaken by the blast pressure, then deafened by the gunfire that followed.”

Hussein said he had been pulled from the rubble of a collapsed ceiling. “Our hospital walls collapsed. Opposite us is a school that also collapsed. I do not know how many died,” he said.

The blast  collapsed the walls of nearby schools and left cars mangled.

Somalia armed group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the deadly attack. Abdiasis Abu Musab, the group’s military operations spokesman told Reuters that the explosion targeted a United Nations convoy.

The al-Qaeda-linked armed group said in a statement carried by its Andalus radio that it targeted Western officials being escorted by the African Union peacekeeping convoy.

Al-Shabaab has been fighting Somalia’s central government for years to establish its own rule based on its strict interpretation of sharia law.

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