At least four people died and nine were others wounded Tuesday when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a restaurant near an army barracks in the Somali capital, police officials and witnesses said.
The attacker walked into a Mogadishu tea shop and detonated the explosive vest he was wearing, said Abdirahman Adan, a police officer stationed near the scene.
“We have confirmed four dead, and nine others wounded,” he said. “The casualties were taken to hospital.”
The militant group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility, saying it was targeting Somali soldiers undergoing training at a Turkish-run military academy nearby.
Witnesses said the tea shop was popular with soldiers stationed nearby.
“The explosion destroyed the kiosk and the entire area is chaotic,” said Mohamed Yare, one of the witnesses.
The attack came just two days after Somalia’s government spokesman was injured in a bombing in Mogadishu also claimed by Al-Shabaab.
On January 12, several people died in a suicide car bomb blast in a separate attack targeting a busy part of the capital.
The spate of attacks comes as Somalia limps through a political crisis caused by long-running disagreements over overdue elections.
The president and prime minister have been at loggerheads over the process, which is more than a year late and has been marred by violence.
The latest agreement has earmarked February 25 as the deadline for the completion of long-delayed parliamentary polls, the last step before a vote for a new president can occur.
The impasse has worried Somalia’s international backers who fear it distracts from the threat of Al-Shabaab, a violent insurgent group that has been fighting the weak central government for over a decade.
The Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists were driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 after an offensive by an African Union force, but still control vast swathes of rural Somalia from where they launch regular attacks in the capital and elsewhere.