At least one person died and seven others were injured following a powerful explosion near Parliament compound in Somali capital Mogadishu on Saturday, local media have reported.
Eyewitnesses say the explosion took place at a security checkpoint after a car laden with explosives blew up near the parliament building and presidential palace located close to Sayidka junction.
Reports also confirmed that the bomber who was driving the car died instantly while seven civilians sustained severe wounds according to local police. Somalia continues to suffer from terrorist attacks at the hands of the Islamist rebels Al-Shabaab though no confirmation has been made over who is responsible.
Police spokesman Sadiq Ali Adan says the driver defied orders to stop on Saturday morning, and police opened fire as passers-by ran for their lives. He says more than a dozen vehicles were destroyed in the blast. The area was cordoned off by security as ambulances rushed the wounded to hospital.
The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab extremist group based in Somalia often targets high-profile areas of Mogadishu. It has threatened to attack the polls.
This latest bombing occurred as Somali politicians argue over how to hold a national election. The polls had been scheduled for February 8, and some argue that President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed who is seeking a second four-year term has overstayed his mandate. More talks on the election crisis are set for Monday.
There has been increased bomb attacks in the capital Mogadishu after the term of the current president expired without elections to usher in a new government which has created a constitutional crisis. The delayed election has been expected to be a defining moment for the country’s stability with the conduct and results anticipated to have a ripple effect on the social, political and economic relations in the Horn of Africa.
Early this month, Al-Shabaab militants attacked and mounted an 8-hour siege on Afrik Hotel on the main street to the Airport killing 11 people including a former military general, Mohamed Nur Galal. The area is one of the most guarded places in the capital Mogadishu.
The violent attacks come barely a month after former US President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of some 700 troops who had been supporting local security forces against militant groups, including al-Shabab.
There are fears the withdrawal could lead to further instability in the country, coupled with a delayed election which was due to be held this week on 8th February 2012.
The Somali elections will also influence what will take place when the African Union’s AMISOM peacekeeping forces leave in 2021 and the security of the country will fall under the responsibility of the Somali Armed Forces.