MOGADISHU: A Somali general and at least seven of his bodyguards were killed on Sunday when their vehicle was rammed by a car bomb driven by an Al Shabaab suicide attacker in the capital, police and the extremist group said.
Al Shabaab, which frequently launches attacks on officials in Mogadishu, staged this attack in the build-up to a vote for a new parliament and president, part of efforts to rebuild a nation that has been shattered by two decades of war and chaos.
"Military General Mohamed Roble Jimale and at least seven of his bodyguards died," police colonel Abdikadir Farah told Reuters. "The suicide car bomb hit the car they were in. May God rest their souls."
The general was known by the name Goobaanle. Somalis often have a nickname that is as commonly used as their proper name.
Al Shabaab, which once ruled much of Somalia, wants to topple the Western-backed government of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who is seeking re-election in the upcoming vote.
Voting for the 275-seat parliament is scheduled to start on September 25 and end on October 10, with new lawmakers sworn in on October 30. Those lawmakers will, in turn, pick a president on October 30.
Due to security concerns, including the continuing Al Shabaab insurgency, voting will not be based on one-person-one-vote but instead about 14,000 people representing federal states across the nation will choose members of the legislative assembly.
That is a fraction of Somalia's 11 million people, but is more than the 135 elders who picked the outgoing parliament in 2012.