Gen. Mohamed Ahmed Jimale, the new Commander of the Somali National Army (SNA) on Sunday escaped a car bomb explosion in which he is believed to have been the target.
Al-Shabaab militants have claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabaab’s spokesman for military operations.
15 people were killed in the attack, most of them passengers in a minibus.
Five soldiers and at least 8 civilians travelling in a passing minibus were killed, said Capt Mohamed Hussein, a senior Somali police officer.
A huge cloud of smoke billowed over the scene and heavy gunfire was heard in the area. The wreckage of the minibus destroyed by the powerful bomb was in the street, with a pool of blood under the vehicle. Burning debris littered the scene, the Business Standard reports.
Soldiers fired in the air to disperse a crowd standing near a car of an electricity company that was destroyed by the blast.
The attack comes just a week after President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed replaced his security chiefs and called on al-Shabaab fighters to surrender within 60 days in return for education and jobs.
Gen. Jimale and his deputy had left the army headquarters moments earlier where they attended a ceremony in which the leadership of the military was conferred upon them.
The army commander and his escorts were driving between Gashandhigga (the seat of SNA) and the former Jaalle Siad military Academy.
A car parked with explosives hit the General’s bulletproof car.
The government is yet to issue an official statement on the attack, which is believed to have killed at least four people, the Africa Review reports.