Three Somali soldiers were killed in the capital Mogadishu on Wednesday while attempting to defuse a car bomb, announced the police and militant al-Shabaab group.
The bomb detonated as the military experts were trying to dismantle a car laden with explosives that security forces seized in Wadajir district, police major Mohamed Hussein said.
“First two soldiers died and another was injured. The third soldier died of the blast wounds minutes later,” Hussein told Reuters.
The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the incident, but gave different details.
“Five mine experts including security officials and foreigners died in the Mogadishu blast,” its military affairs spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab said.
Since losing large swathes of territory to African Union peacekeepers supporting the government, al-Shabaab have frequently launched raids and deadly attacks in Mogadishu and other regions controlled by the federal government.
Al-Shabaab has vowed to step up attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere after President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed announced a new offensive against the group.
Targets in recent months have included hotels, military facilities and checkpoints and areas around the presidential palace.
Somalia’s military is under growing pressure to assume responsibility for the country’s security as a 22,000-strong multinational African Union force prepares to start withdrawing in 2018. The force, which has been supporting the fragile central government, plans to leave by the end of 2020.
Somalia’s president last week urged the international community to lift the arms embargo on his long-chaotic country, saying the military needs more than AK-47s to combat the extremists.