MOGADISHU, Somalia — Somalia’s new military chief survived a suicide car bomb attack on Sunday that killed 13 people, police say.
Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Jimale had just been sworn into office and was traveling in a convoy with senior military officials when the bomb exploded near Somalia’s defense ministry compound in Mogadishu, police say.
Five soldiers and at least 8 civilians travelling in a passing minibus were killed, said Capt. Mohamed Hussein, a senior Somali police officer.
Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the attack.
A huge cloud of smoke billowed over the scene and heavy gunfire was heard in the area.
At the blast scene, the wreckage of a civilian minibus destroyed by the powerful bomb was in the street, with a pool of blood under the vehicle. Burning debris littered the scene.
Soldiers opened fire in the air to disperse a crowd standing near a car of an electricity company that was destroyed by the blast.
“What happened here was a painful tragedy – the blast struck two packed minibuses and no one survived,” said Abdifitah Halane, a spokesman for Mogadishu’s mayor.
“There is flesh and blood everywhere,” he said looking at the destruction caused by the blast.
Behind the wreckage of a minibus, a bereaved woman wept and called out the name of a man presumed to be her husband who was thought to have been in the car.