Powerful blast, thought to be from a car bomb, tore through shops and food stands in Mogadishu’s Madina district.
At least 20 people have died after a car bomb exploded in the Somali capital Mogadishu.
(Aljazeera) — In the deadliest attack since the election of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed – nicknamed Farmajo – the vehicle exploded on Sunday at an intersection packed with civilians, traders and security forces.
“A suicide car bomber blew himself up inside this market at a busy time, killing at least 20 people and many others were also injured,” said Ahmed Abdulle Afrah, the district commissioner of Mogadishu’s Wadajir district.
Final death tolls in attacks in Somalia are difficult to establish, as relatives, public and private ambulances ferry the injured and dead away.
Al-Shabab, the armed anti-government group, did not claim responsibility for the attack, but it came on the same day as it threatened to wage “vicious war” against Farmajo and his new government, according to the SITE intelligence group which monitors its accounts.
Reward for information
Farmajo described Via Twitter the attack as “horrific” and shared pictures of himself visiting victims in hospital.
Local media also reported he had offered a $100,000 reward for information on who carried out the attack.
Sheikh Hassan Yaqub Ali, a senior al-Shabab official, said in a speech broadcast on a radio station linked to the group, that Farmajo was considered more dangerous than past presidents as he held joint American citizenship.
The blast brought international condemnation, with the European Union describing it as “yet another act of terror targeting the Somali people by those wanting to undermine progress towards a stable and secure Somalia”.
The EU said it stood behind Farmajo’s efforts to bring security to his nation and build strong institutions.
The latest attack underlines the challenge facing the new president, who has inherited an administration with limited control over Somali territory due to the presence of al-Shabab, and is heavily propped up by the international community.
In the week before the election on February 8, at least 28 people were killed when al-Shabab struck a popular hotel in Mogadishu.
Farmajo’s inauguration takes place on Wednesday, although he officially took office this week at a ceremony marred by a series of al-Shabab mortar strikes near the presidential palace which left two children dead.
African Union troops drove al-Shabab out of Mogadishu in August 2011 but the fighters continue to control rural areas and launch repeated attacks in the capital.
Farmajo, whose brief stint as prime minister in 2010-11 showed him to be a no-nonsense leader set on improving governance and cracking down on corruption, is hugely popular in Somalia.
But he faces enormous difficulty in turning around one of the world’s foremost failed states.
Somalia’s limited election process, in which only several thousand delegates voted for legislators, is seen as a step toward full democracy.
Somalia has not had an effective central government since the collapse of Siad Barre’s government in 1991, which led to civil war and decades of anarchy.