At least five people were killed and 11 others wounded, including a regional governor, in a suicide attack on Tuesday in southern Somalia, police said, a bombing claimed by Al-Shabaab militants.
A vehicle laden with explosives ploughed into a guest house hosting government officials in Bardera, 450 kilometres west of the capital Mogadishu, said Hussein Adan, police commander for the area.
“The explosion destroyed most parts of the building and five security guards died in the blast,” Adan said.
Eleven people, including the governor Ahmed Bulle Gared, were injured, he added.
Al-Shabaab, linked to Al-Qaeda, has been waging a bloody jihadist insurgency against the central government in the fragile Horn of Africa nation for about 15 years.
The group claimed responsibility for the attack through their Shahada News Agency, according to the US monitoring group SITE.
Mohamud Saney, who witnessed Tuesday’s attack, said he had “never heard anything as big as the explosion.”
“It shook the earth like an earthquake.”
In recent months, the Somali army and local clan militias have retaken chunks of territory from the militants in an operation backed by US air strikes and an African Union force known as ATMIS.
Despite the gains by the pro-government forces, the militants have continued to demonstrate an ability to strike with lethal force against civilian and military targets.
In the deadliest Al-Shabaab attack since the offensive was launched last year, 121 people were killed in October by two car bomb explosions at the education ministry in Mogadishu in October.
The UN last month said that 2022 was the deadliest year for civilians in Somalia since 2017, largely because of an increase in mass-casualty attacks by the jihadist group.
Although forced out of Mogadishu and other main urban centres more than a decade ago, Al-Shabaab remains entrenched in parts of rural central and southern Somalia.