MOGADISHU, Somalia – At least two people were killed in an apparent car bomb blast on a major street in Somalia’s capital Friday evening, police said, just hours after the U.S. military confirmed that a recent airstrike had killed a high-level al-Shabab extremist commander blamed for deadly attacks in Mogadishu.
Capt. Mohamed Hussein said the blast occurred on Maka Almukarramah road in Mogadishu and the two victims were pedestrians. The exact target was unknown.
Five other people were injured, Hussein said, adding that security forces had been on high alert after tipoffs of a possible attack by the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab. Most of Mogadishu’s major roads were blocked and cars were being searched by soldiers before the blast.
The U.S. military earlier Friday confirmed that al-Shabab commander Ali Mohamed Hussein had been killed in an airstrike last weekend in southern Somalia. Also known as Ali Jabal, he had been blamed for a number of deadly attacks in Mogadishu and was the highest-level al-Shabab commander killed this year.
The Somalia-based al-Shabab, the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa, often targets the capital with deadly bombings in high-profile areas such as hotels and military checkpoints.
On Friday, the U.S. State Department issued an updated travel warning for Somalia, telling citizens to avoid going there because fighters associated with both al-Shabab and the Islamic State group “operate with relative impunity throughout large parts of the country, including Mogadishu.”
This is the second time in a week that a deadly blast has rocked Maka Almukarramah road. On Sunday, a car bomb exploded near Waberi police station and killed at least five people and wounded at least 13 others, police said. Most of the victims were civilians. The blast occurred amid a traffic jam while soldiers were searching cars at a nearby intersection.
At the time, Somalia’s Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire said no such explosion had occurred in the capital for a month.