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Five killed in suspected al-Shabaab attack in Somalia’s capital

Published: Updated:

Police said Tuesday that suspected al-Shabaab extremists killed a local government official and his companion in Somalia’s capital before detonating a car bomb that killed three other people.

The gunmen ambushed the city official and his female passenger in their car in eastern Mogadishu and shot them dead, said Omar Mohamed, a district police official.

“The gunmen who we believe are linked with al-Shabaab... tried to escape using the vehicle of the assassinated official, while leaving their own car loaded with explosives near the scene of the attack,” Mohamed said.

“The vehicle they left behind detonated as security forces arrived to investigate, killing three more people and taking the overall casualties from this attack to five.”

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The attackers escaped on foot after failing to get away with the victim’s car, he added.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

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Witnesses said a huge blast erupted near the scene of the shooting as spectators gathered to look, injuring at least 10 people and tearing through nearby buildings.

Al-Shabaab, an affiliate of al-Qaeda, was driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 but its militants continue to wage a deadly insurgency, frequently targeting government, military and civilian targets in complex attacks.

Earlier this month at least 10 Somali soldiers were killed in an al-Shabaab ambush about 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Mogadishu.

Three people were killed and seven injured on September 9 when a suicide bomber walked into a restaurant and Mogadishu and blew himself up.

A few days earlier, a suicide bomber killed five Somali soldiers and seriously wounded an American military adviser in a village outside the southern port city of Kismayo.

Somalia plunged into chaos after the 1991 overthrow of then-President Siad Barre’s military regime, leading to years of clan warfare followed by the rise of al-Shabaab which once controlled large parts of the country and Mogadishu.