At least 20 people were killed on Sunday when a car bomb exploded outside Somalia’s Defence Ministry in the capital Mogadishu.
The suicide bomber struck a military convoy and many of the victims were government soldiers, a senior military commander told dpa.
Civilians were also killed in the explosion, bringing the death toll up to at least 20, security official Mohamed Hassan told dpa.
Newly appointed army chief Mohamed Ahmed Jimale, who was travelling in a bulletproof vehicle as part of the convoy, survived the suspected assassination attempt.
Military vehicles were badly damaged in the explosion, according to a military commander, who asked not be named because he is not authorized to speak on the matter.
A minibus taxi carrying passengers was completely destroyed.
The powerful explosion was heard across the city and a plume of smoke visible over the site. Soldiers blocked off all roads leading to the site of the explosion.
Militant group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in a brief statement on the group’s radio station, Radio Andalus.
Al-Shabaab claimed that more than 20 government soldiers were killed.
The attack comes as Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo announced a military offensive against al-Shabaab. Last week, he said fighters would be allowed to surrender and relinquish their weapons within 60 days.
By Mohamed Odowa, dpa.