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SOMALIA: Double bomb blast hits Mogadishu, 40 dead

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40 dead after 2 blasts, gunfire rock Somalia’s capital

The explosions shattered a months-long period of calm in Mogadishu, which is often the target of attacks by the al-Shabab extremist group. They also came a day after Somalia’s interior minister warned of an explosives-laden vehicle somewhere in the capital.

The first blast, apparently caused by a suicide car bomber, occurred near Somalia’s intelligence headquarters, police Capt. Mohamed Hussein told The Associated Press.

He said the second blast occurred near parliament’s headquarters, where security forces were engaged with gunmen thought to be trying to attack the presidential palace. The vehicle had tried to speed through a checkpoint close to parliament headquarters, Hussein said.

The Aamin Ambulance service ferried 18 bodies and another 20 injured people after the blasts, director Abdirahman Abdulqadir told The Associated Press.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Mogadishu was the target of a truck bombing in October that killed 512 people in the deadliest attack in the Horn of Africa nation’s history. Only a few attacks since 9/11 have killed more people. The Somalia-based al-Shabab was blamed.

Concerns have been high over plans to hand over Somalia’s security to the country’s own forces as a 21,000-strong African Union force begins a withdrawal that is expected to be complete in 2020.

On Thursday, the head of the AU force, Francisco Madeira, said the option of ending the pullout before 2021 “could bring about a serious risk of reversals that could derail the gains already made.” Somali forces, he said, are not yet ready.

AL JAZEERA – Double bombing rocks Somalia’s Mogadishu

Two suicide car bomb blasts followed by gunfire reported near the presidential palace in the Somali capital.

A double suicide car bomb blast followed by gunfire has been heard in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, according to police.

A loud explosion reportedly took place on Friday, followed by a second blast and sustained gunfire which broke out near the president’s residence.

It is not immediately clear who was behind the attack.

“We understand it is a suicide car bomb near the presidential palace area,” Major Mohamed Ahmed, a police officer, told Reuters news agency.

“Then another blast followed, with gunfire. It is too early to know details and target.”

At least five people have been killed, a security official told DPA news agency.

The suspected attacks come a day after the Somali government had issued a “terror warning” in Mogadishu.

This is a developing story.  Details will be added.

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