Suicide Bomber Kills Five in Central Somalia

Five people died and six others were wounded Friday when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a restaurant near the presidential palace in central Somalia, police and witnesses said.

The attacker detonated a device inside a tea shop in Bar Bulsho in the capital Mogadishu, Somali police spokesman Sadik Dudishe said.

“All the casualties were people spending time to drink tea,” Dudishe said.

The cafe is frequented by members of the Somali security forces as well as civilians.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Witnesses said the police had cordoned off the area after the blast.

Adan Qorey, a resident of the Bar Bulsho area, said the tea shop was often crowded in the afternoon and evening with patrons drinking tea and chewing khat, a mildly narcotic native shrub also known as miraa.

Friday’s attack came barely a day after five civilians were killed and 13 others wounded in a car bombing near a market in central Somalia.

A truck bombing on Saturday in the central town of Beledweyne killed 21 people, razing buildings and injuring dozens.

The spate of attacks comes as Somalia’s beleaguered government has admitted that it has suffered “several significant setbacks” in its fight against the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab militants.

Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office in May last year vowing “all-out war” against the militants.

His government launched a major offensive against the Islamists in August last year, joining forces with local clan militias in an operation backed by AU troops and US air strikes.

On Thursday, Somali security forces foiled two car bomb attacks targeting Dhusamareeb town in central Somalia where Mohamud has been based in recent weeks.

UN resolutions call for the African Union Transition in Somalia (ATMIS) force to be reduced to zero by the end of next year, handing over security to the Somali army and police.

But this has proved challenging, with the government now seeking to delay a planned reduction of ATMIS troops.

Al-Shabaab, which is fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu, regularly attacks government and civilian targets in Mogadishu.

The group controlled the capital until 2011 when it was pushed out by the African Union troops, but still holds territory in the countryside.

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