Suicide bomber detonates device in Mogadishu mayor's office, killing 6
Mayor of Somalia's capital badly injured in attack, police officials say
UPDATED: The mayor of Mogadishu has since died. For more information, click here.
A suicide bomber walked into the office of Mogadishu's mayor and detonated explosives strapped to his waist, killing six people and badly wounding the mayor, Somali police said Wednesday.
The attack, claimed by the al-Shabaab extremist group, occurred after the United Nations special envoy to Somalia, James Swan, paid the mayor a "courtesy call" and left the compound, an official at the mayor's office told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The UN mission in Somalia, in a tweet before the bombing, posted photos of the smiling mayor and the new envoy, saying Swan had received an overview of the "challenges" in the region.
The new <a href="https://twitter.com/UN?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@UN</a> envoy to <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Somalia?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Somalia</a>, James Swan, today paid a courtesy call on <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Mogadishu?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Mogadishu</a>'s Mayor <a href="https://twitter.com/engyarisow?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@engyarisow</a> and his team. He met district commissioners and got an overview of the progress and challenges in the Mogadishu/Banadir region, ranging from development to displacement. <a href="https://t.co/QM2ruHjvWP">pic.twitter.com/QM2ruHjvWP</a>—@UNSomalia
The mayor, Abdirahman Omar Osman, and his deputy were rushed to hospital with critical wounds, and two district commissioners were among the dead, said police Capt. Mohamed Hussein.
Somalia's information minister, Mohamed Abdi Hayir, said six officials were killed and six others were wounded. He told reporters the mayor was being treated and gave no further details. He also confirmed an investigation was underway.
A Somali intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the officials killed included two local government directors and a senior adviser to the mayor.
It was not clear how the bomber managed to enter the mayor's office during a security meeting. Some security officials said the attacker might have co-ordinated with corrupt officials, offering them bribes for access.
The al-Shabaab group has links to al-Qaeda and often targets government buildings such as the presidential palace and other high-profile parts of Mogadishu with bombings.
Security officials said Wednesday's attack appeared to be a shift in tactics, as the extremists in the past had rarely managed to infiltrate heavily fortified government buildings without first detonating one or more vehicle bombs.
The Somalia-based group was chased out of Mogadishu years ago but still controls parts of the Horn of Africa nation's south and central regions and is a frequent target of U.S. airstrikes.
The area was filled with ambulances after the blast, shopkeeper Mohamed Osman said.
Journalists are forbidden from going to attack sites.
Somalia has been riven by conflict since 1991, when clan warlords overthrew a dictator, then turned on each other.
With files from Reuters