Mortars hit near Somali Parliament; at least 7 die
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Mortars fired toward Somalia's Parliament missed the building but hit a police unit inside the compound as well as a residential neighborhood, killing at least seven people, according to witnesses and officials.
Parliament was in session at the time of the attack, though the prime minister and speaker had just left, Deputy Parliament Speaker Osman Ilmi Boqore said.
"The mortars started to land near the parliament building when the session ended, and the [lawmakers] had just passed a national budget," Boqore said.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The mortar shells that exploded at the police unit killed one officer, said Colonel Yusuf Dumaal, the Mogadishu police commander.
Most of the shells landed on a Shibis District neighborhood north of the capital around noon yesterday, Police Chief Abdi Hassan Awale said.
Witnesses in the neighborhood counted at least six dead. Resident Abdirahman Hassan described how "mortars started to rain down on our village."
"One of them hit a house, killing three children from the same family," he said. "In another place, two people were killed by the mortars."
The explosions flattened a home in another part of the neighborhood, killing an 11-year-old boy inside, said Abdirahman Shikeh Isse, a relative.
Isse and Hassan counted 17 injured, while Dumaal said at least four police officers had also been injured, bringing the number of injured to at least 21.
Somalia, an arid country on the Horn of Africa, has not had an effective central government in nearly 20 years, since warlords deposed dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
Until January, the parliament had been based in the southwest town of Baidoa while Islamic insurgents controlled most of Mogadishu.
Lawmakers were forced to return to the capital after Baidoa was captured on Jan. 26 by Al-Shabab, an Islamic group on Washington's list of terror organizations.