At least seven people have been killed and more than ten others injured in a suicide car bomb attack on a government convoy in Somalia's capital city of Mogadishu, media reports citing local officials said Sunday.
The attack reportedly targeted a government convoy carrying foreign aid workers. It was not immediately clear whether foreigners were among the casualties in the attack, which is said to have destroyed at least four cars in the targeted convoy.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, but Somali authorities are blaming the al-Shabaab militant group. The al-Qaeda aligned outfit is Somalia's most prominent and influential Islamist militant unit. The group, branded as a terrorist organization by the United States and most of the international community, is the military wing of the Islamist movement ousted by Ethiopia-backed Somali forces in 2006.
Until recently, al-Shabaab and other allied groups controlled large areas in southern Somalia where they enforced strict Islamic laws or Sharia. But Somali forces, backed by African Union peacekeepers, managed to seize control of most of the rebels-held regions in recent months, except some pockets in rural southern and central Somalia.
Notably, Sunday's attack came just days ahead of an international conference on Somalia in London. The conference, which opens on Tuesday, will be co-hosted by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Some 50 countries and international organizations are expected to take part in the conference, which is aimed at discussing and devising ways in which the international community can help in stabilizing Somalia and advancing the progress achieved by the Horn of Africa nation in recent months.
Somalia marked a historic political watershed last August when the first formal Parliament was sworn-in, ending the "transition" phase which had begun with the 2004 launch of a UN-backed interim government. The previous functioning government ended in 1991 with the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.
The Horn of Africa nation is currently emerging from a long and difficult period of instability, with representative institutions and a new government that has made a commendable commitment to uphold human rights and the rule of law for all. Despite these positive developments, the country still witnesses frequent bombings and militant attacks, mainly in Mogadishu.
by RTT Staff Writer
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