December 20, 2010 / 2:07 PM / 8 years ago

Roadside bomb, shooting kill seven in Somali capital

Members of the hardline al Shabaab Islamist rebel group parade their weapons in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, January 1, 2010. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - A roadside bomb planted at a checkpoint south of the capital Mogadishu killed six Somali government soldiers when they tried to remove it in a car and it exploded, a police officer said on Monday.

A civilian was killed in error when soldiers thinking they were under attack opened fire, the officer said.

Somalia has had no effective central government for 19 years and Western efforts to install one to stabilise the country have been greatly undermined by an insurgency by al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgents and the Hizbul Islam group.

It was not known who had planted the device at Ex-control, a government checkpoint south of Mogadishu where vehicles to and from the capital are inspected.

“The blast killed 7, 6 government soldiers and a civilian and injured 11 government soldiers,” Mohamed Muktar, a senior police officer at the checkpoint, told Reuters.

“At the checkpoint are police and military. Our police detected and removed the roadside bomb but unfortunately it went off when it was about to be transported. One of our cars was also completely destroyed,” he said.

Ali Muse, a coordinator of ambulance services in the city said the civilian, a senior official with a private telecoms firm, was killed when soldiers opened fire — thinking they were under attack — when the device exploded.

The anarchic Horn of Africa country’s U.N.-backed Transitional Federal Government controls just a few blocks of the war-scarred coastal city and its security forces have been fighting to regain north Mogadishu from armed rebels.

The Al Shabaab fighters have been fighting President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed’s Western-backed government since the start of 2007, and are trying to hold on to the city’s north which puts the presidential palace within range of their mortar rockets.

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