Somalia's new army chief escaped a car bombing Sunday that killed at least 10 people in a bloody response by Shabaab militants to the president's declaration of war on the group.
A suicide bomber drove a car packed with explosives into Ahmed Mohamed Jimale's convoy near the defence ministry in Mogadishu, just days after he was named to the top army job Thursday by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.
"Initial information indicates that the military chief has narrowly escaped the attack," the Shabaab said in a statement published on the website of the jihadist group's Andalus radio station, claiming responsibility for the blast.
Senior army official Muktar Adan Moalim told AFP that seven civilians and three members of the security forces had been killed in the bombing.
"A minibus loaded with explosives rammed a civilian bus while trying to hit the convoy of the military chief," he said.
An AFP reporter saw five dead bodies and body parts scattered across the scene of the explosion after the attack around midday.
Security forces blocked off the entire district around the defence ministry.
Security official Ali Abdirahman confirmed that the army chief -- better known to Somalis by his nickname Irfid -- was unhurt, as were other senior military leaders who had been in the convoy.
A witness, Abdirahman Isa, said the passenger bus that had been passing the scene "was completely destroyed and there were several dead bodies" which were "completely smashed and burned in the blast".
The attack was the latest deadly incident in days, after a car bomb in Mogadishu left seven dead Wednesday, a landmine killed 19 Thursday and a mortar attack left three dead on Friday.
While the Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab have lost large swathes of territory and were forced out of Mogadishu by African Union troops in 2011, they continue to strike in the capital and countryside.
'State of war'
Widely known by his nickname Farmajo, the president took office in February and faces a struggle to improve security in the deeply unstable Horn of Africa nation.Bomb attacks have become a regular and bloody feature of daily life in the capital since the Shabaab were forced out of Mogadishu six years ago.
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