Somalia: Double suicide bombing in Baidoa kills civilians

At least 16 people have been killed and 50 others wounded after two suicide bombers attacked a restaurant and a hotel in the town of Baidoa in Somalia, police and witnesses said.

A man wearing an explosive device walked into Beder restaurant on Friday and blew himself up, killing multiple people and wounding others, police officer Mahad Mohamed told DPA news agency on Saturday.

Shortly after the first blast, another suicide bomber blew himself up at the Bilan hotel, killing more than six people.

The restaurant and hotel are both popular with civilians and local government officials.

Armed group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Baidoa on Andalus, a pro-Shabab radio station.

It said one blast targeted a hotel owned by a former Somali minister, Mohamed Aden Fargeti, one of several candidates running for the presidency of the region in November’s election.

The blasts came on the eve of the one-year anniversary of a suicide truck bombing in the capital Mogadishu that killed more than 500 people.

Al-Shabab, which controlled Baidoa between 2009 and 2012 before being driven out by Ethiopian-backed government forces, still holds parts of southern and central Somalia.

Attention in recent days has turned to Baidoa, the interim capital of South West state, as high-level al-Shabab defector Mukhtar Robow also seeks the regional presidency.

Robow is the highest-ranking official to have ever quit al-Shabab, surrendering to the Somali government last year after the United States cancelled a $5 million reward offered for his capture.

Somalia’s government earlier this month said Robow was not eligible to run for the regional post because he is still under US sanctions that were imposed against him in 2008 when he was identified as a “specially designated global terrorist.”

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