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SOMALIA: Banadir Police chief killed in roadside bomb explosion near Mogadishu

The Somali police chief and several of his bodyguards were killed Friday in a roadside bomb explosion near the southern city of Bal’ad, according to Somali authorities.

The attack involved a landmine targeting Police Commissioner Farhan Mohamoud Adan, better known as “Qarole,” near the Bal’ad district, 35 kilometers north of Mogadishu.

“The police commissioner got out of his bulletproof vehicle while visiting a government military post. A landmine that was apparently planted there then exploded, killing the commissioner and an unknown number of officers who were accompanying him,” said a government official who declined to be named.

Somali police representative Major Sadiq Aden Ali-Doodishe, who spoke to VOA after the explosion, confirmed the incident, but could not provide further details on the nature of the explosion and the number of victims. Ali-Doodishe said the attack took place in a security operation targeting the Basra village area on the border of the Middle and Lower Shabelle regions.

Authorities blame the al-Qaida-linked Islamist group al-Shabab for the attack, although no one has yet claimed responsibility. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud condemned the attack in a statement.

Speaking at a government-sponsored youth conference Friday in Mogadishu, Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre called on Somali youth to unite in the fight against what he called a “ruthless enemy.” He was referring to al-Shabab, which has waged a bloody insurgency in the impoverished Horn of Africa nation for more than 15 years.