At least 18 people, including 10 security personnel, were killed with more than 40 others wounded in a suicide truck car bombing in central Somalia, police said late Saturday, reports Anadolu Agency.
Police spokesman Sadik Aden Ali Doodishe told Anadolu a truck full of explosives exploded at a security checkpoint in Beledwayne, killing 18 people, including seven police officers.
“The car exploded at a security checkpoint as the multi-spectral security forces were chasing,” he said.
Doodishe added mainly civilians have been hurt and were rushed to hospitals.
Fardowso Ahmed, a resident in the Nur-hawad neighborhood told Anadolu the explosion was one of the biggest the city has ever seen and it reduced dozens of shops and residential homes to rubble.
Beledwayne is the provincial capital of the central province of Hiran, located 341 kilometres (211 miles) from the nation’s capital of Mogadishu.
The town has been the epicentre of an uprising against the al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group al-Shabaab.
The truck bomb has affected many families in the country as well as Somalis in the diaspora who took to social media to express sadness.
“My beloved hometown Beledweyne is in anguish today as al-Shabaab terrorists launch a devastating car bomb attack. My prayers go out to those who lost their lives, may they find peace in Jannah (paradise), and may the wounded recover swiftly,” Omar Jimale, a PhD student wrote on X.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack but former Hirshabele state President Mohamed Abdi Ware suggested that al-Shabaab was behind it.
These are “the actions of a detestable and vile group in its last days. We condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” he wrote on X.
The Horn of Africa country has been plagued by insecurity for years, with the main threats emanating from al-Shabaab and the Daesh/ISIS terror groups.
Al-Shabaab has increased attacks since Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who was elected for a second term last year, declared an “all-out war” on the terror group.
Insurgents have been fighting the government and African Union peacekeepers in Somalia since 2007, claiming other recent deadly bombings.