Published: Sat, February 24, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Two auto bombs explode in Somali capital killing 18 people

Two auto bombs explode in Somali capital killing 18 people

Relatives and medical staff transport a wounded civilian on a stretcher at Medina hospital, following a twin vehicle bomb attack in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia Friday, Feb. 23, 2018.

A auto rigged with explosives detonated in the Somalian capital minutes before the second explosion rattled the area; the blasts were followed by gunfire in the vicinity of the president's residence, according to local police.

"We have so far collected 18 bodies and 20 wounded persons from one of the blast scenes", Abdukadir Abdurahman Aden of the Aamin Ambulance told AFP.

The blasts follow weeks of relative calm in Mogadishu.

"I can confirm an attack in the vicinity of the presidential palace", said police officer Ibrahim Mohamed.

According to officials, the main attack involved the use of a vehicle loaded with explosives attempting to breach a checkpoint leading to the presidential palace but security forces prevented the assault.

Al Shabaab, who have claimed responsibility for previous bombings and gun attacks in the capital, said they killed 15 soldiers in Friday's attack.

Mohamed Yusuf, director of Madiina hospital where numerous dead and injured were taken, said most had been killed in the first auto blast.

He said Somali security officials were pursuing militants who had escaped.

Al-Shabaab, which is seeking to establish an Islamist state in Somalia, regularly launches attacks on government buildings, hotels and restaurants in the volatile nation on the Horn of Africa.

In October, more than 500 people were killed in twin bomb blasts in Mogadishu.

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