MOGADISHU, Somalia — Seven people were killed Sunday morning when a suicide bomber attempted to ram a car laden with explosives into a military convoy escorting a four-member Qatari delegation.
Gen. Garad Nor Abdulle, a senior police official, said the members of the Qatari delegation who were being escorted in the interior minister’s convoy were unharmed and safely reached their hotel. Abdulle said the interior minister was not in the convoy.
Mohamed Abdi, an officer at the scene of the blast, said four civilians and a soldier died immediately. Another two people died in the hospital and 18 were being treated of wounds from the blast, said Dr. Duniya Mohamed Ali at the Medina hospital.
The Qatari delegates are involved in development projects in Mogadishu, Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said.
Mohamud blamed al-Qaida-linked Somali militant group al-Shabab for the attack.
He said “suspects” have been arrested.
After the explosion, soldiers fired in the air to disperse crowds that had gathered at the blast site at the busy KM4 junction.
Separately, four Somali soldiers were wounded Sunday when a roadside bomb struck a government vehicle in Deynile district, in Mogadishu’s northwest, said Ali Jimale, a captain with the Somali police.
The Somali government reopened key roads in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, four days ago that had been closed for security reasons. The roads were closed after the government received intelligence that militants were planning attacks, officials said.
The car bombing falls into a pattern of attacks blamed on the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab, which has been pushed out of much of the areas it occupied in South and Central Somalia by African Union troops.
Condemning Sunday’s attack, the U.N. representative to Somalia, Augustine P. Mahiga said cowardly and senseless acts of violence will not undermine the remarkable progress Somalia has made in the past months.
“Attacks against civilians are never justifiable. I call on all parties to renounce violence and contribute positively to peace and stability,” he said.