Bomb blast leaves four dead during Eid al-Fitr celebrations in Somalia
BAIDOA, Somalia - At least 4 people died on the spot while 15 others are fighting for their lives in hospital following a bomb explosion in the outskirts of Baidoa, reports indicate, but no group is yet to take responsibility for the attack.
The raid targeted civilians who were attending Eid al Fitr celebrations within the outskirts of Baidoa, the regional administrative capital of troubled Southwest state in Somalia, witnesses said.
Among those killed were two children who had attended the celebrations, Voice of America reported, but it's not clear if the attackers were within the vicinity of the town, at the time of the explosion.
Several residents had gathered in the town as part of the traditional way of ending Ramadan, the Holy month among the Muslims around the world. The Sunday explosion was the first one targeting Internally Displaced Persons within Somalia, reports indicate.
During the attacks, residents and other visitors were performing traditional dances. Although Somalia observed Eid al Fitr on Saturday, celebrations are expected to go on until Monday [today] according to strict Islamic cultures.
A security official told VOA that there were no major suspicions since Saturday within the venue adding that the bomb might have been planted on Sunday during the second day of celebrations, leading to massive damage.
Usually, Al-Shabaab militants have often taken responsibility for such attacks but no statement is yet to be issued by the Somalia-based militants. They have often justified their attacks by insisting they do not target civilians.
Photos published by proxy media outlets showed members of the group joining civilians for the celebrations in some of the towns under their control. For instance, the militants were pictured in Jilib and Bua'le where they are in steady control.
Earlier on Sunday, Gen. Ali Hersi Barre, a police commander, survived an explosion within Mogadishu which was planted by the road. Nobody was injured during the explosion, which ostensibly targeted his motorcade.
General Barre is the acting chief of the health department of the national police. He was targeted on May 20 when a similar roadside explosion hit his vehicle. Gen Barre was not in the vehicle, but one of his bodyguards was killed and three other people were wounded.
There was no immediate claim responsibility for either attack Sunday, but security officials suspect al-Shabab was behind the blasts, given their traditional use of Improvised Explosive Devices [IEDs] and VBIEDs.
Al-Shabaab has caused mayhem within East Africa for the last decade, leading to the death of close to 5,000 civilians. There are about 7,000 active Al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia according to statistics released by the US Africa Command.
But in recent months, the group has suffered massive losses within their territories due to persistent ground combats and airstrikes, mainly launched by Somali National Army [SNA], the AMISOM, and US Africa Command.
However, the militants can still wage small to large scale sporadic attacks, a move which has informed the recent crackdown against them across the country. Somalia has been struggling to establish a functional government since 1991 after the assassination of Siad Barre.