Mortar shell explosion kills 27 people in Somalia, mainly children

Mortar shell explosion kills 27 people in Somalia, mainly children
The explosion in the southern Somali town of Qoryoley, occurred after children were playing with a mortar shell which detonated.
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The unexploded shell, which killed 27 people, were used by warring factions in Somalia, local residents said [Getty]

A mortar shell explosion near Qoryoley town in Somalia's Lower Shabelle region killed about 27 individuals, mainly children, and injured 53 on Friday, according to the state news agency.

Earlier, officials and residents confirmed to Reuters that the death toll stood at 20.

"This disaster happened today near Qoryoley town. They were playing with a mortar shell that did not go off. It exploded on them. Twenty of them died and others are injured," Abdi Ahmed, deputy district commissioner of Qoryoley told reporters earlier.

"We request the government and aid agencies to clear mines and shells from the area," he added.

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Residents said that the unexploded shells, which were being played with by the children, were used by the waring factions in Somalia.

The region is a target of Al-Qaeda-affiliated rebel group Al-Shabaab, which has waged an insurgency against the internationally backed Somali federal government since 2007.

Last month, the group affiliated with Al-Qaeda killed 54 Ugandan peacekeepers in an attack on an African Union base in Bulo Marer, a town around 30 kilometres from Qoryoley.

The movement has been driven out of Somalia's main towns and cities but retains power in large swathes of rural areas, carrying out attacks against security and civilian targets.