Mahas (Caasimada Online) – Somali authorities say at least 15 civilians were killed on Wednesday in a series of car bomb attacks in the central Somali town of Mahas carried out by the Al-Shabab militants.
“Mahas town was attacked by terrorists this morning,” reported local security official Osman Nur. “The attackers used vehicles loaded with explosives and targeted a civilian area. It has been confirmed that nine civilians died, and several others were injured in the two explosions.”
The attacks occurred near a restaurant near a district administration building in Mahas.
Among the deceased were women and children. Officials believe that the attacks were carried out using two Toyota Surf SUV vehicles that entered Mahas from the Wabho area in Galgadud, briefly taken over by government forces from Al-Shabab militants in November before the militants regained control.
The first blast targeted a house where government officials leading operations against Al-Shabaab were thought to be staying, although they were not present at the time of the explosion.
In response to the attacks, police commander Osman Nur said, “The terrorist group, after having been defeated, has resorted to targeting civilians in desperation. However, this will not deter the people’s will to continue defeating them. The group has slaughtered innocent civilians in the explosions.”
The attacks come after a series of bloody incidents by Al-Shabab in recent months.
On October 29, 130 people in the capital city of Mogadishu were killed in two car bomb explosions at the education ministry, marking the deadliest attack in the country in five years.
In August, at least 20 people were murdered in a 30-hour siege of a hotel in Mogadishu popular with politicians and government officials. And in October, a triple bombing in Beledweyne left 30 people dead, including local officials.
There have ongoing efforts by the Somali government and its allies to push back against Al-Shabab. In July, local clan militias “Macawisley” launched a revolt against the group in central Somalia. In September, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud sent troops to support the fight.
The army and militias have since retaken large areas of territory in the central states of Galmudug and HirShabelle with the help of US air strikes and the African Union force known as ATMIS.
However, Al-Shabab has continued to carry out retaliatory attacks, demonstrating its ability to strike at the heart of Somali towns and military installations despite the offensive.