Ten civilians die in suicide attack on new Somali military leader moments after he took oath of office
MOGADISHU, Somalia — At least 10 people were killed Sunday in the capital of Somalia when a suicide bomber tried to assassinate the newly installed commander of the country’s army, witnesses and officials said.
The bomber tried to ram a vehicle into a convoy carrying the commander, Gen. Ahmed Mohamed Jimale, outside the Defense Ministry in Mogadishu, the capital, where he had just taken his oath of office, said a spokesman for Somalia’s Ministry of Internal Security, Abdikamil Moalim Shukri.
Jimale and other defense officials survived the attack, Shukri said, but 10 civilians traveling in a minibus near the general’s convoy were killed. Officials accused al-Shabab, the militant group, of the attack.
“A Shabab suicide bomber targeted a military convoy left from the Ministry of Defense compound which was carrying the newly appointed Somali military chief,” Shukri said, adding: “No officials were hurt in the blast. All the victims were civilians.”
Al-Shabab, which claimed responsibility for the attack, said it had killed several military officials.
The attack came three days after Somalia’s new president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as Farmajo, declared war on al-Shabab and replaced the leaders of the army, police and national intelligence, as well as the mayor of Mogadishu, to confront the threat posed by the group.
The violence and increasing lawlessness in Somalia, which is also threatened by famine and drought, have resumed on the high seas as well: On Saturday, pirates attacked a merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden but fled after being confronted by an anti-piracy patrol, officials said.
It was one of several recent attempts at hijackings after several years in which threats to shipping appeared to diminish.
The country’s information minister, Abdirahman Omar Osman, has called the resurgence of piracy off the coast “very worrisome,” adding that pirates were taking advantage of the weakness of the Somali security forces patrolling the area.
He urged international cooperation to combat the problem.
“Somali federal government is ready to do its part,” Osman said last week. “But due to our limitation in terms of resources and capacity, we urgently require the support.”