An explosive device went off on a street corner in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, early on Thursday, killing at least two people and injuring six others, local sources told IRIN.
"The device, believed to be a bomb, was left in a box on a motorcycle near the former Foreign Affairs ministry building," a Mogadishu resident said. "The explosion took place at around nine o'clock [0600 GMT] and could be heard a kilometre away."
The explosion occurred while military experts from several African countries were in the city to assess the situation, ahead of the proposed deployment of an African Union (AU) peace mission.
Since 6 February, Mogadishu has also hosted some 80 members of parliament from the 275-strong, Kenyan-based interim Somali government. The MPs were in Mogadishu to prepare for the return of the transitional government from Nairobi to Mogadishu.
Somalia's prime minister, Ali Muhammad Gedi, is expected in Mogadishu by the end of this week.
The special adviser to Gedi, Abdurrahman Ali "Malaysia", said the prime minister had condemned the explosion "in the strongest terms and sends his condolences to the families of those killed and injured".
However, Ali added, the prime minister would go ahead with his planned trip to Mogadishu. "What happened today did not change that," Ali said. "The prime minister will be there later in the week."
Following the explosion, the injured were taken to the nearby Medina Hospital. "We have admitted six seriously injured people," Dr Muhammad Yusuf, told IRIN from the hospital. "Some have lost limbs, while others have severe abdominal injuries. All the injured are now in stable condition."
The dead and injured, he added, were young men, "in their late teens or early 20s".
On 9 February, a British Broadcasting Corporation journalist, Kate Peyton, was killed outside a hotel in Mogadishu, where she had interviewed members of Somalia's interim parliament.
Peyton's killing was preceded by the killings in recent months of four senior police and military officers by unidentified gunmen. All of them had called, at one time or another, for the deployment of peacekeepers to the country and had served under the former transitional national government.
According to Somali political sources, Thursday's explosion is the first of its nature in Mogadishu. "It is not the weapon of choice for the various factions here [in Mogadishu]," the source said.
No person or group immediately claimed responsibility for Thursday's explosion.
Matt Bryden, a Horn of Africa analyst for the International Crisis Group, told IRIN on Thursday that armed groups operating in Mogadishu might be responsible for the bombing.
"Suspicion is obviously going to fall upon the 'Jihad' groups operating in the capital who are opposed to any foreign intervention, and probably to the transitional federal government as a whole," he said.
"These are marginal groups with very little popular support, but if troops from the IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority on Development] frontline states deploy to Somalia, the popularity and influence of the 'Jihadis' will grow exponentially," Bryden added.
Several neighbouring countries have offered troops to join the AU peacekeeping force that would be deployed in Somalia. However, there have been widespread demonstrations in Mogadishu against the proposed deployment.
"Most Somalis are prepared to accept a small AU force to assist with demobilisation, disarmament and training, and provide some security for the government, but they have made it clear that they don't want forces from the frontline states," Bryden said.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions