Mogadishu mayor wounded in blast at his office
MOGADISHU - A suicide bomber walked into the office of Mogadishu's mayor and detonated explosives strapped to his waist, killing several people and badly wounding the mayor, Somali police said Wednesday.
The mayor and other top government officials were wounded in an explosion at his offices in the Somali capital, his deputy told state radio Wednesday.
"The mayor was wounded in the blast and he is currently being treated. Some of the commissioners of Mogadishu district have also been wounded," deputy mayor Mohamed Abdullahi Tulah told the government's radio station Muqdisho.
A security source, who asked not to be named, said a suicide bomber had entered a hall where the officials were meeting and detonated the blast inside.
Earlier United Nations special envoy James Swan had met with the mayor, Abdirahman Omar Osman, at the headquarters of the Banadir district, which encompasses Mogadishu, according to the mission's Twitter account.
However UN sources said he had left by the time of the explosion.
"The blast occurred inside but we are not sure what exactly caused it, some reports we are getting indicate it was caused by a suicide bomber... and there are casualties," said security official Mahdi Abdirahman.
He did not give further details on the wounded.
"The blast was very heavy, and I saw people, fleeing some with shrapnel wounds outside the Banadir administration headquarters," said witness Mohamud Shariif, referring to the regional government offices.
Mogadishu is regularly hit by attacks by the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab Islamist group, which has fought for more than a decade to topple the Somali government.
The city was on Monday struck by a car bomb which left 17 dead and more than two dozen wounded.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack on Wednesday. It often targets government buildings such as the presidential palace and other high-profile parts of Mogadishu with bombings.
The security officials said Wednesday's attack appeared to be a shift in tactics, as the extremists in the past had rarely managed to infiltrate heavily fortified government buildings without first detonating one or more vehicle bombs.
The Somalia-based al-Shabaab was chased out of Mogadishu years ago but still controls parts of the Horn of Africa nation's south and central regions and is a frequent target of US airstrikes.