Somalia’s army chief, General Odowa Yusuf Rage, on Monday survived a suicide bomb attack that was claimed by the Al-Shabaab jihadist group, military sources said.
A civilian died and half a dozen other people were wounded in the attack on his motorcade in the capital Mogadishu, one said.
“The terrorist, driving a Toyota Surf Land Cruiser, tried to strike a convoy escorting the army chief when the security forces fired several warning shots to stop him,” said Captain Mohamed Ismail, a military official.
“But he ignored (the shots), and the forces directly fired on him, detonating the vehicle. A civilian died and six others were wounded, including two soldiers,” he said.
Suleyman Ali, another military officer, said, “The security forces shot a suicide car bomber who tried to sneak into the convoy escorting the military chief Odowa Yusuf Rage. The army chief survived the attack and he is safe.”
Security forces briefly detained several journalists who arrived on the scene.
The general was appointed last August at the age of 32, making him the youngest army chief in Somalia’s history.
Monday’s attack was claimed by Al-Shabaab through their media outlet Shahada, according to the US monitoring group SITE.
The jihadists, who are affiliated to Al-Qaeda, were driven out of Mogadishu by government forces backed by 20,000 African Union peacekeepers in 2011.
But they still control swathes of territory outside the cities and carry out attacks, specialising in suicide bombings, against government and international targets.