Suicide car bomb targeting convoy in Somali capital kills at least 8 -official

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Suicide car bomb in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU (Reuters) -A suicide car bomb killed at least eight people in the Somali capital on Saturday at a street junction near the president's palace, police said, and al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab said it was behind the attack which targeted a convoy going into the palace.

Police spokesperson Abdifatah Aden Hassan told reporters at the scene of the blast the casualties could be higher, since some of the dead and wounded had been taken away by their relatives.

"Al Shabaab is behind the blast. They killed eight people including a soldier and a mother and two children. Al Shabaab massacres civilians," he said.

Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, the government spokesperson, said among those killed was Hibaq Abukar, an advisor of women and human rights affairs in Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble's office.

"She was one of the pillars of PM's office (for) women affairs," he said on his Facebook account.

It was not immediately clear if Abukar was in the convoy or if she just happened to be close by when the blast happened.

Al Shabaab confirmed it was behind the attack. The group, which wants to overthrow the government and impose its own strict interpretation of Islamic law, frequently carries out such bombings.

"A Mujahid driving a suicide car bomb targeted a convoy of cars going into the (presidential) palace," Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab military operation spokesperson, told Reuters by phone.

A Reuters witness at the scene of the attack reported seeing seven cars and three rickshaws destroyed by the blast, and the whole junction covered in blood.

(Reporting by Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar; writing by George Obulutsa; editing by Clelia Oziel)

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