8 killed as twin bombings rock Somali capital (Lead)

Mogadishu, Dec 22 (IANS) At least eight people were killed and 13 injured in a twin suicide car bomb attack in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Saturday, the police said.The blasts occurred in central Mogadishu near the National Theatre, the Presidential Palace and the Daljirka Dahson monument, CNN reported.Senior journalist Awil Dahir Salad was among several staff members of London-based Universal Somali TV to be killed, according to the station.Al-Shabaab, a militant group linked to Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement posted on affiliated websites. Plumes of smoke rose over the streets as emergency vehicles sped towards the blast scenes. A heavy police presence was reported in the area. Eyewitnesses said the explosions were so huge that they shook a wide radius. “There were massive car bombs, causing panic among the residents. We don’t know the number of casualties but we heard several people died,” Mukhtar Abdi, a witness, told Xinhua news agency.Earlier reports said Mogadishu’s Deputy Governor Mohamed Abdulahi was injured in the explosion, while some of his bodyguards were killed.A senior reporter from Somalia’s Universal Television also died, reports said.–IANSsoni/sed