MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) – An explosion killed a Somali official, his wife and four others Saturday in the capital Saturday, witnesses and officials said.
In a separate attack, Islamist rebels said they ambushed a convoy of Ethiopian troops allied to Somalia’s shaky transitional government, but the number of casualties was not immediately known.
Hassan Illmi Abtidoon, the deputy district commissioner of Mogadishu’s Yaqshid district, was traveling in a car in the capital along with his wife, driver and three bodyguards, said Ahmed Gedi, who worked with the official.
The vehicle had just left Abtidoon’s house when a remote-controlled land mine exploded under the vehicle, Gedi said, adding that all six were killed in the blast. Bus driver Abdi Gurey, who was right behind the car at the time of the attack, said “a huge explosion sent it into the air.”
Targeted assassinations of officials are common in Somalia, where Islamic insurgents have vowed to fight an Iraq-style insurgency against the weak and corrupt U.N.-supported government.
The attack on the Ethiopian troop convoy occurred near the Somalia-Ethiopia border, said Sheik Abdirahin Issa Adow, a spokesman for the Islamist insurgency. He said the fighters destroyed three vehicles and killed soldiers on two trucks, but did not know the number of casualties.
Resident Huseen Ahmed Rage said the site of the ambush was soaked in blood, but he did not see any bodies. Somali and Ethiopian officials were not immediately available to confirm the attack.
In December 2006, Somali soldiers and their Ethiopian allies ousted Islamist insurgents who had taken over the capital. Since then, the insurgents have been battling the transitional government. The Islamists had ruled Mogadishu and much of southern Somalia for six months.
Ethiopian and Somali government forces come under daily attack in the capital.
Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and turned on each other.
The current conflict is complicated by the involvement of arch enemies Eritrea and Ethiopia, who support the opposing sides, and a complicated web of clan loyalties.