Thirteen individuals have lost their lives and twenty more have been injured in a suicide bombing incident in central Somalia.
- A suicide bombing at the Beledweyne security checkpoint in central Somalia has resulted in the death of thirteen individuals and injuries to twenty others.
- The victims include civilians who were in close proximity to the explosion site, and the number of casualties may increase as the wounded are transported to hospitals.
- This attack has occurred at a time when the government has acknowledged setbacks in their efforts against the militant group Al-Shabaab, which has been further complicated by the delayed withdrawal of African Union troops.
On Saturday, a truck carrying explosives was driven towards a security checkpoint in the town of Beledweyne in central Somalia, resulting in the killing of thirteen individuals and the injury of twenty others, according to the police.
Ahmed Yare Adan, a local police officer, stated, “We have recovered the bodies of thirteen individuals, most of whom were innocent civilians residing nearby,” during a phone interview with AFP.
He further added, “Approximately twenty injured individuals have already been transported to hospitals, and it is anticipated that the casualty count may rise.”
The attack caused significant damage to nearby structures, leading to people being trapped under the debris. This incident occurred shortly after Somalia’s struggling government acknowledged suffering “several significant setbacks” in their fight against Al-Shabaab militants.
Al-Shabaab, an Islamist militant group, has been engaged in an insurgency for over fifteen years with the objective of overthrowing the fragile government in Mogadishu which is backed by the international community.
An African Union force was deployed in Somalia in 2007 with a mandate lasting six months, but they still remain stationed in the area. The government now seeks to postpone the planned reduction of foreign troops by three months.
United Nations resolutions call for the complete withdrawal of the African Union force by the end of next year, with the responsibility of security being handed over to the Somali army and police forces.
Last year, Somali troops initiated a major operation against the Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, in central Somalia. They joined forces with local clan militias and received support from the African Union force and airstrikes conducted by the United States.
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud assumed office in May of the previous year, promising to wage an “all-out war” against Al-Shabaab, who were expelled from Mogadishu in 2011 but still control large parts of the countryside.
In August, President Mohamud, who recently visited the frontlines, declared that the government would “eliminate” the jihadists by the end of the year.
However, Somalia’s national security advisor sent a letter to the United Nations, requesting a 90-day extension to the planned withdrawal of 3,000 African Union troops by the end of September.
In the letter viewed by AFP, the advisor stated that although the government had managed to “liberate” towns, villages, and critical supply routes during their offensive, they have encountered “several significant setbacks” since late August.