The death toll from a truck bomb at a checkpoint in Somalia rises to 21
Baku, September 25, AZERTAC
The death toll from the truck bombing in central Somalia rose to 21, on Sunday (September 24) after emergency workers dug through rubble to recover more bodies, according to WION. This comes a day after a suicide bomber drove a truck packed with explosives towards a security checkpoint.
The attack took place in the town of Beledweyne where the officials have also reported damage to nearby buildings.
It was not immediately clear who carried out the bombing and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, as of Sunday. However, the Islamist group al Shabaab is known to frequently carry out bombings in the Horn of Africa country.
The attack took place in the town of Beledweyne, which is in central Somalia’s Hiran region and has recently witnessed battles between the military and al Shabaab.
"The death toll from yesterday's explosion has increased today from 13 to 21 people after more dead bodies were recovered under the debris of the destroyed buildings, some...burnt beyond recognition," Ahmed Yare Adan, a local police officer, told AFP.
"People... are still looking for the missing members of their families, they don't know if they are dead or alive," he added.
Meanwhile, the number of wounded in Beledweyne stood at 52, said Abdifatah Mohamed Yusuf, director general of the Hirshabelle ministry of humanitarian and disaster management, according to the Associated Press.
He also told the AP, that 17 of those critically wounded were airlifted to the capital, Mogadishu, for treatment.
Sayid Ali, deputy commander of the Beledweyne police station, told AFP that the bomber had targeted a busy neighbourhood that housed businesses and residential buildings. "The search and clearing operation is going on at the site of the explosion," Ali told AFP.
Police officer Ahmed Aden, on Saturday, told Reuters that among those killed were five police officers who had fired on the truck in a failed attempt to stop it from ramming the checkpoint, adding that the nearby buildings and shops were reduced to rubble.
The attack came after Somalia’s beleaguered government admitted to suffering “several significant setbacks” in its fight against the al Shabaab militants. The militant group has been fighting Somalia’s central government for more than a decade in a bid to establish its rule based on strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.
The fragile internationally-backed government in Mogadishu has been able to keep al Shabaab away from the capital city Mogadishu after they were driven out in 2011 but the militant group continues to control swathes of the countryside.
This comes as Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took office in May 2022, and vowed an “all-out war” against the group. During a recent visit to the frontline, as per AFP, Mohamud said that his government would “eliminate” the jihadists by the end of the year.