Al-Shabab bomb kills 17 in Mogadishu

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No fewer than 17 people were killed and eight others injured in an explosion on Thursday outside a popular hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Internal Security, Abdiaziz Ali Ibrahim, told the media that the wounded were being treated at the city’s hospitals.

“Seventeen people died including a young girl, some workers and persons having tea at roadside teashops popularly known as bibiito,” said Mr Ibrahim.

He said a tricycle taxi, locally known as bajaaj, may have been used for the explosion.

The blast occurred opposite one of Mogadishu’s oldest lodges, the Weheliye Hotel, along the busy Maka al-Mukarrama Avenue.

The jihadist Al-Shabaab group claimed responsibility.

The group carries out frequent attacks in Mogadishu as it seeks to overthrow the internationally recognised Somali government.

In October last year, al Shabaab killed more than 500 people in the deadliest attack at a busy intersection in Mogadishu.

Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, more commonly known as al-Shabaab, is a jihadist fundamentalist group based in East Africa.

Founded in 2006, the jihadists In 2012, it pledged allegiance to the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda.

It emerged as the radical youth wing of Somalia’s now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts, which controlled Mogadishu in 2006, before being forced out by Ethiopian forces.

There are numerous reports of foreign jihadists going to Somalia to help al-Shabab, from neighbouring countries, as well as the US and Europe.

It is banned as a terrorist group by both the US and the UK and is believed to have between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters.

Al-Shabab advocates the Saudi-inspired Wahhabi version of Islam, while most Somalis are Sufis.

It has imposed a strict version of Sharia in areas under its control, including stoning to death women accused of adultery and amputating the hands of thieves.