WASHINGTON — At least six people were killed and more than 10 injured in a car bombing Thursday in the central Hirshabelle state in Somalia, according to officials.
The perpetrator targeted a busy meat market in Bulobarde town, some 220 kilometers north of Mogadishu.
Saadaam Cabdi Iidow, the town’s mayor, said the suicide bomber came under fire from security forces before reaching his goal but detonated explosives near a police checkpoint.
“About six people were killed and more than 10 others injured, including children and members of the security forces. The blast destroyed an entire business area and some residential buildings,” Iidow said. “The checkpoint is near a meat market.”
Meanwhile, security forces prevented double suicide car bomb attacks targeting Dhusamareb, a town some 280 kilometers to the north, killing the drivers of two vehicles loaded with explosives, officials said.
Dhusamareb District Commissioner Abdirahman Ali Ahmed told VOA that the security forces had been tipped off about the vehicles carrying explosives and were ready to fend them off.
“The security forces were waiting when the first car tried to enter the town around 5:30 a.m. local time. They forcibly stopped it with heavy machine guns and then it went off. The terrorist driver died on the spot. The second car bomb tried to enter the town 10 minutes after the first one, and our forces foiled it, killing the driver,” Ahmed said.
Both Bulobarde and Dhusamareb are important and strategic towns that have been the focal point of efforts to mobilize the local population against al-Shabab amid an ongoing Somali military campaign to defeat militants who followed Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s declaration of a “total war” against the al-Qaida-linked militants shortly after being elected last year.
Thursday’s blast comes days after an explosives-laden vehicle detonated at a security checkpoint in the central Somalia city of Beledweyne, killing at least 18.
Al-Shabab has threatened violence against clans mobilizing against them in the past.
Abdiaziz Barrow and Abdiwahid Isaq contributed to this report.