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18 killed in car bomb explosions in Somali capital

The attack was led by the Islamist militant group al Shabaab, but security forces shot dead five assailants, officials said. Shooting broke out near the president’s residence, police and ambulance services said.

Police said the first car bomb went off after militants breached a checkpoint near the president’s residence by shooting at security personnel. The second blast was a car bomb parked in front of a hotel away from the palace.

Al Shabaab, who have claimed responsibility for previous bombings and gun attacks in the capital, said they killed 15 soldiers in Friday’s (February 23) attack, but this could not be confirmed.

The group, which is linked to al Qaeda, wants to overthrow the Somali government and impose its own harsh interpretation of Islamic law. It has killed hundreds of civilians across East Africa and thousands of Somalis in a decade-long insurgency.

In October, more than 500 people were killed in twin bomb blasts in Mogadishu. The bomb attacks were the deadliest since al Shabaab began an insurgency in 2007. Al Shabaab did not claim responsibility for that incident.

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