Al-Shabaab twin explosions leave 21 dead in Somalia


BELEDWEYNE, Somalia - Amid intensive clan mobilization and coordinated operations against Al-Shabaab, the Al-Qaeda-linked group executed retaliation on Wednesday in central Somalia, waging two separate attacks which left at least 21 people dead.

In the first explosion just near the main bridge to Jalalaqsi town where Djiboutian military's Forward Operating Base is located within HirShabelle, the militants activated a car bomb but the soldiers manning the security check acted swiftly.

The militants were targeting the Forward Operating Base manned by the Djiboutian troops but their intentions were countered, although senior officers were killed in the attack, including the major of the town who happened to be at the site.

“At around 2:30 p.m., a vehicle arrived at the checkpoint, one of the soldiers collecting taxation pointed a gun and stopped it,” said Mire Hussein Siyad, deputy district commissioner of Jalalaqsi.

“When the gun was pointed at [it], the vehicle exploded,” Siyad told VOA Somali.

The explosion, he noted, killed at least 15 people including the town mayor Adan Mohamed Isse, and Mohamed Nur Agajof Dabaashe, the district commissioner. Dabaashe was recently replaced as Jalalaqsi commissioner, but he had not handed over responsibility yet, Siyad said.

Also killed in the deadly attack were soldiers at the checkpoint and a number of civilians including hawkers in the streets of the town. A tall building near the checkpoint was badly damaged and two officers serving in African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] were injured.

The attack, Siyad claimed, was targeting the main bridge as a tactic to paralyze the movement of the soldiers who have been pursuing the militants on several fronts across the Horn of Africa nation. The crackdown has mainly focused on central and southern Somalia.

Separately, six people were killed on the main bridge connecting Buloburde to the rest of the country after the Al-Shabaab used a three-wheeled motorcycle to bomb the bridge in an attack that saw four civilians dead. Two soldiers within the vicinity also died on the spot.

The district commissioner of Bulobarde, Ahmed Mahad Nur, told VOA Somali that two men riding the motorcycle drove it onto the bridge. He said one of the men jumped off before the explosion while the second one detonated the explosive-laden motorcycle and died in the blast.

“They wanted to bring down the two bridges at the same time,” Siyad said. “It’s the most crucial bridge between the central and southern regions,” said Nur.

The two towns are situated in the Hiiraan region where clan mobilization and coordinated operations by the military have been taking place, claiming the lives of hundreds of Al-Shabaab terrorists. The militants are said to have been on revenge missions.


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