At least three people were killed and eight injured on Saturday in a car bomb explosion near a checkpoint on a key road in Mogadishu, according to a security official and witnesses.
“The police chased the vehicle (…) after spotting it several kilometers from where it exploded,” Abdirahman Mohamed, a security force official, told AFP.
“The police opened fire on the vehicle and chased it down. This allowed many people to get out of the way. This really limited the number of casualties the explosion was likely to cause, ”he added. “According to our information three civilians died and eight others were wounded.”
Witnesses said they heard gunfire and saw vehicles scatter before the explosion.
“The explosion was strong,” said Aisha Ahmed. “I was in a store and saw the police chasing a vehicle on the wrong side of the road. It hit several vehicles and tuk-tuk (motorized tricycles) before exploding near the checkpoint, ”he continued.
Another witness, Dahir Osman, was “in a sports hall, near the site of the explosion”. “But thank goodness we heard the gunfire before the explosion. And that put a lot of people on alert, including myself, and we fled the area to take cover, ”he told AFP.
Mogadishu is regularly the scene of attacks by radical Shebab Islamists who have led for years an insurgency aimed at overthrowing the fragile Somali government, supported at arm’s length by the international community.
They were driven out of Mogascio in 2011, but control large swathes of territory in Somalia, a country that has fallen into chaos since 1991.