Fifteen people killed in suicide bombing in central Somalia

MOGADISHU, March 24 (Xinhua) -- At least 15 people were killed and an unknown number of others injured in two explosions in the central Somali town of Beledweyne Wednesday night, the police said.

Local police officers told a state-owned television station that among the dead were Amina Mohamed Abdi, an outspoken lawmaker, former lawmaker Hassan Dhuhulow and soldiers.

A suicide bomber wearing explosive vests wrapped around his waist detonated explosives in front of a heavily secured Lamagalaay base, killing the two lawmakers who were candidates for the Lower House seats.

According to the police, the second blast took place at a security checkpoint, targeting vehicles for rushing the injured to the hospitals but no casualties were reported.

Witnesses said Amina, a fierce critic of President Mohamed Farmaajo who was in Beledweyne to campaign for re-election, appeared to have been targeted inside the Lamagalaay base where polls have been taking place over the past weeks.

President Mohamed Farmaajo and Prime Minister Mohamed Roble have separately condemned the terror incident and sent their condolences to the family and relatives of the deceased.

Farmaajo described the attack as a coward one by the militant group which he said bears the hallmarks of the terror outfit's main focus of killing innocent people.

Roble said the deceased lawmaker is known for her role in the struggle for justice for the late female intelligence agent Ikran Tahliil who was killed in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, last year. "Lawmaker Amina, who is known for her role in the struggle for justice for the late Tahliil, and a few days ago an attempt was made to make her lose her seat, was assassinated in an attempt to defeat justice."

Emergency medical workers remove the body of a suspected suicide bomber at the scene of an attack in Mogadishu on January 16, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

Early this month, Amina had complained of attempts by security agents to block her from seeking reelection due to her strong condemnation over the murder of a female intelligence officer.

Roble assured the Somalis that despite increased terrorist attacks across the country, the ongoing elections will proceed as scheduled and called on the citizens to remain vigilant and support the ongoing elections.

The prime minister has ordered a thorough investigation into the killing of the lawmakers and vowed to defeat terrorism.

The attack comes only hours after al-Shabab attacked Mogadishu's heavily guarded airport Wednesday in which six people were killed.