Twin explosions kill at least 20 dead in central Somalia
MAHAAS, Somalia - At least 20 people were killed on Wednesday morning in Mahaas town within the Hiiraan region, multiple reports indicate, with the Al-Shabaab militants directly claiming the New Year raid which could cause uproar over measures taken to improve security within the country.
The twin explosions are the worst attack waged by limping Al-Shabaab militants who have been fighting to control vast lands of rural central and southern Somalia. The militants have been under siege following an offensive that was activated sometime last year by the government of Somalia.
Eyewitnesses said the explosion damaged a number of buildings and most victims were believed to be members of the same family. It is not year clear whether it was a coordinated attack or random explosions engineered by the Al-Shabaab militants who are seeking to topple the fragile UN-backed federal government of Somalia.
Reports indicate that two Toyota Surf SUV vehicles entered the town from Wahbo area from the Galgaduud town before storming Mahaas in the Hiiraan region. The Somali National Army and other stakeholders have been conducting operations in the areas under question.
After the entry, the first blast targeted a house that is said to be hosting government officials who have been in charge of the ongoing crackdown against Al-Shabaab militants. The Al-Shabaab extortionists have left most of the towns following the coordinated campaigns against them.
Mahaas is located about 310 kilometers north of Mogadishu, the Somali capital.
The Al-Shabaab militants have been on the receiving end forcing a number of them to surrender to government forces while others have been crossing over to the neighboring countries to avoid getting killed or arrested. The group is yet to take responsibility but it is known that they are fond of targeting civilians and security forces.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said the government of Somalia is determined to defeat the militants this year, adding that a number of them have already died. Over 700 militants are said to have been killed between September last year and last month within Hiiraan, Galgaduud, and Bay regions.