Not less than 18 people were killed while more than 40 were injured when an explosives-laden vehicle detonated at a security checkpoint in the central Somalia city of Beledweyne, the country’s military authorities said in a statement on Sunday.
The explosion which occurred on Saturday evening, also affected government buildings in the capital of the Hiran region in Hirshabelle state that has been the center of the Somali government’s latest military offensive against al-Shabab extremists.
The region’s Governor Ali Jeyte Osman, who addressed a press conference on Sunday, described the blast as a heinous act, saying the death toll could be higher as more are still being established.
“Since the number of casualties here is shocking, government agencies such as the police and the hospital are currently examining the situation to determine the exact number of deaths and injuries caused by this blast. We would like to thank those who responded to this tragedy,” he said.
An eyewitness, Ismail Ali, who spoke to journalists said he escaped death by the whiskers
witnessed the blast.
“What happened is a national tragedy and words cannot express our grief.
“You can imagine how densely populated this area was, there were three garages connected to one another housing a large number of vehicles and occupants, and all of these people were killed in the explosion and all of them were innocent people.”
Though no group has laid claim to the blast, all fingers point to the Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab terrorists which often carries out such attacks and controls parts of Somalia.
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