At least 18 people killed in pair of explosions in Somalia’s capital

Civilians evacuate from the scene of an explosion in KM4 street in the Hodan district of Mogadishu, Somalia.

:: Twin car bombs that went off in Somalia’s capital have killed 18 people and wounded 20 others, the capital’s ambulance services said.

“So far we carried 18 dead people and 20 others injured from the blasts tonight,” Abdikadir Abdirahman, the director of Amin ambulances, told Reuters.

It was not immediately clear who carried out the attacks.

Insurgents from al-Shabaab, a group linked to al-Qaeda, have claimed responsibility for previous bombings and gun attacks in the capital.

A huge cloud of smoke rose into the sky near the palace and gunfire continued near the president’s residence, a Reuters witness said.

Police and witnesses said the second blast was a car bomb parked in front of a hotel away from the palace. It caused no casualties.

Police said the first car bomb went off after suspected militants breached a checkpoint near the president’s residence by shooting at security personnel at the checkpoint.

“The militants got off when they neared the palace, the suicide car bomb exploded outside the palace where there were many military soldiers who guarded the street adjacent to the palace,” Major Omar Abdullahi told Reuters.

“The second blast was a car bomb parked in front of a new hotel a bit far from the palace. The damage was little here and so far no casualty were found,” he said.

The streets around the palace and near the new hotel were surrounded by security forces who denied access to ambulances and reporters.

“We could not have access to the areas close to the palace. We transported 15 injured people from near the new hotel where there was a second blast,” Abdikadir Abdirahman, the director of Amin ambulances, told Reuters.

In October, more than 500 people were killed in twin bomb blasts in Mogadishu. The bomb attacks were the deadliest since al-Shabaab began an insurgency in 2007. Al Shabaab did not claim responsibility for that incident.

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