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Bomb kills eight Somali soldiers in Mogadishu, Al-Shabaab claims attack

Somalis in Mogadishu took to the streets to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the ouster of Al-Shabaab.

MOGADISHU: At least eight Somali government troops were killed when a remote-controlled bomb hit their vehicle in Mogadishu, officials said Thursday, highlighting lingering security risks less than two weeks before the U.N.-backed government’s mandate ends.

Somalia’s Islamist Al-Shabaab group claimed responsibility for the attack Wednesday evening.

Government troops and African Union peacekeepers say they have tightened security before a presidential election on Aug. 20 when the transitional government will be dissolved.

A combined force including Kenyan, Burundian, Ethiopian and Djiboutian troops is planning an offensive on Kismayu, Somalia’s second biggest city and a hub for Al-Shabaab, before then.

Residents said the military vehicle had been destroyed by a roadside bomb in the Huriwaa district.

“A bomb killed eight soldiers and completely destroyed their pickup. Only two, including the driver, survived with injuries,” Mohammad Abdikadir, a senior police officer, told Reuters.

Although Somali troops and peacekeepers of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) drove Al-Shabaab fighters from most of Mogadishu in August 2011, the latest bombing shows the militants can still stage deadly attacks in the capital.

Al-Shabaab has threatened more attacks as Somalia’s three top government officials and a dozen other politicians campaigning for the presidency. Last week the government foiled two would-be suicide bombers who targeted a conference hall where delegates approved a draft constitution.

“We destroyed the government pickup yesterday,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, military spokesman for Al-Shabaab, told Reuters. “AMISOM and government forces will never sleep or relax. More explosions await them.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 10, 2012, on page 9.

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