Somalia bombings claim at least 30 lives

  • 29/02/2016
At least 21 have been killed and 40 others wounded following fighters detonated a car bomb outside a hotel and gunfire in the capital Mogadishu (Getty)
At least 21 have been killed and 40 others wounded following fighters detonated a car bomb outside a hotel and gunfire in the capital Mogadishu (Getty)

Somalia's al-Shabaab Islamist group has bombed a busy junction and a nearby restaurant in the town of Baidoa, killing at least 30 people, police and the group say.

Al-Shabaab often carries out such suicide attacks in the capital and elsewhere in its bid to topple Somalia's Western-backed government. The group wants to impose its strict version of Islamic rule in the Horn of Africa nation.

"The restaurant and the junction were very busy," Police Major Bilow Nurr told Reuters from Baidoa on Sunday (local time), which lies about 245km northwest of Mogadishu.

Police Colonel Abdi Osman said the death toll was 30, with 40 others injured. A hospital official said many of the bodies it received were charred beyond recognition.

A police officer said a suicide car bomb blew up at the junction on Sunday while a second blast -- possibly a bomb that had been planted or a suicide bomber -- struck the restaurant.

"We targeted government officials and forces," al-Shabaab's military operation spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters, adding there was a police station nearby.

Ismail Olad said the two locations were full of civilians and security forces.

"I heard a huge crash at the busy junction and as I ran, I heard another blast at a restaurant ahead of me. The whole place was covered by smoke," he said.

The blasts follows a car bomb attack in Mogadishu near a park and hotel on Friday that killed 14 people, police said. He said three militants from the al Shabaab group were also killed.

The Sunni fundamentalists have been fighting for years to create a religious state within Somalia.

Somalia's government, reacting to the attacks, said it would tighten security measures across the country, with closer co-operation between national security forces and regional forces.

The head of the nation's intelligence service promised to take the fight to al-Shabaab "at the front".

Security Minister Abdirisak Omar Mohamed also called on parliament to pass a new counter-terrorism law to help beef up security forces.

DPA / AAP