Somalia's al-Shabab claim pair of blasts that kill at least 16

Somalia's al-Shabab claim pair of blasts that kill at least 16
Al-Qaeda's Somalia affiliate have claimed responsibility for two bombings in a town where a jihadist defector is running for public office.
2 min read
14 October, 2018

A suicide bombing at a restaurant and a blast at a nearby hotel killed at least 16 people and injured 30 others in Somalia's southwestern town of Baidoa, authorities said on Sunday.

The bomber caused most of the casualties when he walked into a restaurant and detonated explosives strapped around his waist, Col. Ahmed Muse told The Associated Press.

Many of the wounded at Baidoa's main hospital had horrific injuries, nurse Mohamed Isaq told the AP.

The attack has been claimed by the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group, who have since 2007 waged war against Somalia's central government in a bid to impose their hardline interpretation of Islamic law.

The group said on its Andalus radio station that it had targeted a hotel owned by a former Somali minister, Mohammed Aden Fargeti, one of several candidates running for the presidency of the region in November's election.

Baidoa is a key economic center about 250 kilometres (155 miles) west of the capital, Mogadishu, and about the same distance east of the Ethiopian border.

Al-Shabab, which controlled Baidoa between 2009 and 2012 before being driven out by Ethiopian-backed government forces, still holds parts of southern and central Somalia.

Attention in recent days has turned to Baidoa, the interim capital of South West state, as high-level al-Shabab defector Mukhtar Robow also seeks the regional presidency.

Robow is the highest-ranking official to have ever quit al-Shabab, surrendering to the Somali government last year after the United States cancelled a $5 million reward offered for his capture.

Somalia's government earlier this month said Robow was not eligible to run for the regional post because he is still under US sanctions that were imposed against him in 2008 when he was identified as a "specially designated global terrorist.

Despite losing territory to US-backed government forces, al-Shabab have continued to pose a threat to the stability of the Horn of Africa country.

Sunday's blasts came just a day before the first anniversary of the deadliest attack in its history, a truck bombing that killed more than 500 people in Mogadishu.