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Double car bomb attack in Somalia kills 15

By
Sommer Brokaw
A victim is carried into an ambulance at the scene of twin explosions Saturday in Mogadishu. Photo by Said Yusuf Warsame/EPA-EFE
A victim is carried into an ambulance at the scene of twin explosions Saturday in Mogadishu. Photo by Said Yusuf Warsame/EPA-EFE

Dec. 22 (UPI) -- A double car bomb attack Saturday in Somalia killed 15 people and injured several others.

The explosions occurred in the center of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, near the presidential palace, CNN reported.

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Al-Shabab, a Somalia-based terrorist group, claimed responsibility for both explosions, adding on a pro-al-Shabab website that the second car bomb targeted those who responded to the first, Voice of America reported.

Security forces and civilians, including one Somali journalist, Awil Dahir Salad, were killed in the blasts.

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"This is a very sad day," VOA Somali journalist Harun Maruf, who had known Salad for over 25 years, said. "Somalia has lost a great journalist ... and a wonderful person."

Injury estimates range from 20 people, according to the official, Ibrahim Jama, to witnesses reporting more than 31 people injured in the first blast alone.

A security official told VOA that government officials, including Somali lawmaker Warsame Mohamed Jodah, and Modgadishu deputy mayor Abdullahi Mohamed Tuulah, were among the injured.

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Somalia's national intelligence agency said the mastermind of the bombings and the driver in the second car bomb attack have been arrested.

Several people were also killed by car bombs in Somalia's capital last month. A series of car bombs near a hotel in Mogadishu on Friday, Nov. 9 killed at least 23 people, initial reports from local officials said. By the following Monday, hospital officials told CNN the death toll had risen to 52.

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The al-Shabab militant group also claimed responsibility for that attack near the hotel, saying it was targeting government officials staying there.

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The United States has combated the terrorist group in Somalia, with U.S. airstrikes last weekend killing 62 al-Shabab militants.

Earlier this month, spokeswoman Heather Nauert announced the U.S. State Department had re-established its permanent diplomatic residence in Mogadishu, which had been closed since 1991 as fighting between rebels and Somali government escalated.

Nauert cited "progress in recent years," as a reason for re-opening the U.S. Embassy in Mogadishu.

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