Somalia bombing: Minister of state, commissioner among 9 dead in ‘suicide attack’


Nine people, including senior regional officials, were killed Monday in double car bombings claimed by the Islamist group Al-Shabaab in central Somalia, police said.

“The first information we have received confirms the deaths of nine people,” including a state minister and a commissioner, said Mohamed Moalim Ali, a local police commander.

At least 10 others were injured in “suicide bombings” when two cars loaded with explosives were detonated about five minutes apart outside the district headquarters in the city of Beledweyne, he added.

Hirshabelle state’s health minister — where Beledweyne is based — and a deputy district commissioner were among the dead, police said.

The attacks follow pressure from the Somali government to step up offensives against al-Qaeda-affiliated militants, with authorities announcing the assassination of a top Al-Shabaab agent on Monday.

Abdullahi Yare, who had a $3.0 million bounty on his head, was killed in a joint airstrike by the Somali military and international security partners in southern Somalia on Oct. 1, the information ministry said in a statement.

“This leader…was the group’s chief preacher and one of the most notorious members of the Shabaab group,” it reads.

According to the ministry, Yare, co-founder of Al-Shabaab, would be next to take over the leadership of the movement from ailing leader Ahmed Diriye.

Somalia’s recently elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has vowed all-out war against the jihadists after a series of deadly attacks, including a 30-hour siege of a hotel in the capital Mogadishu that left 21 people dead.

The capital of the Hiraan region, Beledweyne, is located about 300 kilometers (200 miles) north of Mogadishu.

Mohamud last month urged citizens to stay away from Al-Shabaab-controlled areas as government forces, supported by local clan militias, launched offensives in Hiraan.

Witnesses to Monday’s double bombings described a smaller explosion followed by a massive second explosion.

“The explosion was huge and destroyed most of the buildings” in the area, said Mohamud Addow, who witnessed the attack.

“I saw several people rushed to hospital and some of the bodies… some were unrecognizable.”

Al-Shabaab, which has claimed responsibility for the bombings, has waged a bloody insurgency against the Mogadishu government for 15 years and remains a powerful force despite an African Union operation against the group.

The fighters were evicted from the capital in 2011, but continue to attack military, government and civilian targets.

The group last week claimed responsibility for a bomb attack that killed a top Somali police officer near the Al-Shabaab-controlled village of Bursa, some 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of Mogadishu.



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