Military convoy targeted in deadly suicide attack claimed by al-Shabab in Somali capital.
A Somali general and several bodyguards have been killed after their military convoy was hit by a suicide car-bomb blast that was claimed by the hard-line Al-Shabab group.
General Mohamed Roble Jimale, also known as "Goobaanle", and several Somali soldiers died in the attack in Somalia’s capital on Sunday, police colonel Abdikadir Farah told Reuters news agency.
"There was a heavy blast caused by a car loaded with explosives alongside the industrial road, several members of the military were killed in the incident including a senior commander," security official Abdiaziz Mohamed to AFP news agency.
The general was the commander of the army’s Third Brigade. He had fought al-Shabab since 2007, leading troops who battled the fighters in several neighbourhoods of the capital until they were forced out in 2011.
The attack took place after the convoy had left a military hospital and was heading towards the defence ministry. Witnesses said the vehicle was travelling on the road when another vehicle rammed it, causing a massive explosion.
"The blast was very huge, I saw smoke and fire overshadowing the whole area," said witness Abdi Hassan.
The attack was claimed by al-Shabab in a statement released by its Andalus radio station.
It said "a mujahid [fighter] was martyred as his suicide car bomb killed General Goobaanle", using the general’s nickname.
Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud sent his condolences to the general’s family, his spokesman said.
Al-Shabab was pushed out of Mogadishu by the African Union peacekeeping force AMISOM in 2011 but has remained a potent threat in Somalia, launching frequent attacks aimed at overthrowing the Western-backed government.
The group is expected to try and violently disrupt elections to be held later this month and in October.
Al-Shabab has also staged repeated attacks in neighbouring Kenya.
A recent security analysis warned the group was expanding its horizons with cells active in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda.