At least 30 people were killed in twin bomb attacks claimed by al-Shabab at a busy traffic junction and a nearby restaurant in southern Somalia.
The attacks in Baidoa on Sunday were part of the armed group’s campaign of violence in its effort to topple Somalia’s UN-backed government.
“The official number of the dead has reached 30 people – all of them civilians – and 61 others have been wounded, 15 of them seriously,” Abdirashid Abdullahi, governor of the Bay region, told the AFP news agency.
Baidoa lies about 245km northwest of the capital, Mogadishu.
The death toll went up overnight after more people died at the hospital, and could rise further with several of the wounded in critical condition, Abdullahi said.
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A police officer said a suicide car bomb blew up at the junction, while a second blast – possibly a bomb that had been planted or a suicide bomber – struck the restaurant.
“We targeted government officials and forces,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabab’s military operation spokesman, told Reuters news agency.
He said there was a police station near by.
Abdirahman Ahmed, a witness who was inside the hotel at the time, said gunfire erupted after the explosion.
“The blast was so huge and windows broken everywhere but the gunfire was outside. Everyone was safe inside, but terrified,” said Ahmed.
Regional official Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden appealed to national and international support to care of the victims, saying the region did not have sufficient medical facilities.
The regional administration in Baidoa is protected by troops of the 22,000-strong African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which is protecting the internationally backed government of Somalia.