Somalia government spokesman wounded in bomb attack

Somalia’s Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble says a government spokesman who was wounded in an “odious terrorist attack” on his car on Sunday is “in stable condition”.

Eyewitnesses believe it is a direct attack on Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu because of how closely the suicide bomber detonated the explosives.

The former BBC journalist was rushed from the bomb blast at a road junction in the capital, Mogadishu, to hospital.

Al-Shabab militants claimed the attack.

Mr Moalimuu worked as a BBC correspondent in Somalia for several years and was head of the National Union of Somali Journalists. He has been caught up in at least five suicide attacks in Mogadishu.

This latest bombing in the capital comes days after another that killed at least eight people – that one carried out by the Islamist militant group al-Shabab near a Somali Air Force camp and the international airport.

Al-Shabab has been fighting Somalia’s government for more than a decade, and retains a stronghold on parts of the country.

These latest bombings come amid a months-long political stand-off between the prime minister and the president over the conduct of delayed elections.

“It seems now it has been sorted out,” Somali journalist Mohamed Mohamed told BBC Focus on Africa radio earlier this week. “The regional leaders and the prime minister have managed to get an agreement which hastens elections within 40 days – starting from January15.”

Islamist militant group al-Shabab is battling the United Nations (UN-backed) government in Somalia, and has carried out a string of attacks across the region. The group, which is allied to al-Qaeda, has been pushed out of most of the main towns it once controlled, but it remains a potent threat.

It emerged as the radical youth wing of Somalia’s now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts, which controlled Mogadishu in 2006, before being forced out by Ethiopian forces.

There are numerous reports of foreign jihadists going to Somalia to help al-Shabab, from neighbouring countries, as well as the US and Europe.

It is banned as a terrorist group by both the US and the UK and is believed to have between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters.

Al-Shabab advocates the Saudi-inspired Wahhabi version of Islam, while most Somalis are Sufis. -BBC

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