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Suicide car bomb kills 11 in Somali capital: officials

Suicide bomb kills 11 near popular hotel, no group yet claims attack

AFP , Wednesday 8 Feb 2012
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Views: 812

A suicide bomber killed at least 11 people Wednesday in the war-torn Somali capital Mogadishu when he detonated an explosive-laden vehicle near the presidential palace, officials said.

"There was a heavy explosion, a car full of explosives was detonated. At least 11 people were killed and a greater number were wounded," lawmaker Mohamed Iro said.

The bomber detonated the vehicle at a small cafe where people had gathered to drink tea, a spot also close to a hotel once popular with officials and located in the heart of the government quarter.

"It was a suicide bomber in a car -- they were trying to target the people near the hotel," said Abdi Abullahi Jama, a security official.

"There are many people dead and many wounded, we are still investigating."

The attack took place hours after senior European Union diplomat Alexander Rondos, Special Representative for the Horn of Africa, visited the war-wracked city, where he met with the embattled government.

The blast occurred outside the Mona hotel, where 32 people including six members of parliament were killed in an August 2010 attack by two Islamist suicide gunmen wearing government security uniforms.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack, the latest in a string of blasts including roadside bombs and grenade explosions that have rocked the Somali capital in recent months.

The city has seen an increase in such attacks since the Al-Qaeda linked al-Shabaab abandoned fixed positions there in August and switched to guerrilla tactics against the Western-backed government and African Union troops.

The explosion was the deadliest in the anarchic city since October, when a truck packed with explosives killed at least 82 people.

Somalia has been without an effective central government since 1991 and the government in Mogadishu is propped up by a 10,000-strong African Union force from Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti.

Hardline al-Shabaab insurgents control large parts of central and southern Somalia, but are facing increasing pressure from government forces and regional armies.

Armies from neighbouring countries are converging on the Shabaab -- Kenyan forces in the south, Ethiopia's army in the south and west, and the AU troops in Mogadishu.

The United Nations says Somalia is suffering one of the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

It lifted a declaration of famine in areas including inside Mogadishu last week, but warned the situation remains dire with a third of the population needing emergency aid.

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