Leaders survive Al-Shabaab suicide bombing in central Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - A number of national and regional leaders survived a suspected Al-Shabaab suicide bomb on Friday, officials said, in the latest attempt by the militants to disorient ongoing operations against the group in central and southern Somalia, which enjoys the backing of the international partners.
The suicide bomber targeted Laas Ga'amey camp in Galmadug state where a number of leaders had gathered to join troops in the frontline as the war against Al-Shabaab gathers momentum in the Horn of Africa nation. The Al-Shabaab are notoriously known for targeting leaders and security officers.
Sources said at least one person was killed in the incident with several others seriously injured. Among the injured was Senator Abdi Hassan Qaybdid who reportedly sustained injury from a rock that fell from the wall of the building he was sleeping.
Also injured was federal lawmaker Abdisalam Haji Dhabancad MP, a crusader of the war against Al-Shabaab. Dhabancad told VOA that he sustained a minor hand injury while Qaybdid suffered injuries to the head. Their injuries were reportedly caused by falling rocks and corrugated sheets due to the impact of the VBIED explosion.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has been in central Somalia rallying for the elimination of Al-Shabaab and has often been seen in military fatigue, which symbolizes his support for a military offensive against the militants in the country. The president has also asked locals to support ongoing operations.
The operation is set to focus on Jubaland and Southwest states once the combing exercise is concluded in Galmadug and HirShabelle states where the first phase of operations against the group was initiated. Thousands of Al-Shabaab militants have been killed in the process.
Elsewhere, Yusuf Sheikh Hassan who has been an al-Shabaab member for 12 years, surrendered to the govt forces in the Bakool region, Friday according to the state media. Reports say Hassan was a medical worker for al-Shabaab fighters within Bakool in the Bay region of Somalia.
Recently, the government offered amnesty to defecting Al-Shabaab militants, with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud saying they will soon get integrated into the community. Hundreds of people have defected from the group and are helping the government to counter violent extremism.