Jalalaqsi (Caasimada Online) – A series of bombings in the central HirShabelle state of Somalia left at least 15 people dead and more than 50 injured on Saturday, according to officials.
The attacks claimed by the extremist group al-Shabab targeted the towns of Buloburde and Jalalaqsi in Hiran region.
In Buloburde, a suicide car bomb killed at least 11 people and injured over 50, many of whom were in critical condition. The bomb exploded near a police station and a base for African Union peacekeepers from Djibouti.
Those critically injured were transported to Mogadishu for treatment as local hospitals could not provide the necessary care.
In Jalalaqsi, a car bomb detonated near a military checkpoint when soldiers intercepted a vehicle carrying explosives. Another bomb went off simultaneously in the area when security officials shot the vehicle’s driver. At least four people were killed, and the death toll could be higher.
Both towns are known for their trade and farming and are located along the Shabelle River. They have been under al-Shabab’s control for over a decade and recently have been the focus of the government’s efforts to mobilize the local population against the group.
Al-Shabab has previously threatened violence against those who oppose them. Similar attacks in October of last year resulted in the deaths of 21 people.
On Thursday, the Somali government announced a “people’s uprising” against the al-Shabab extremist group, which has held back the nation’s recovery from decades of conflict by carrying out attacks in the capital, Mogadishu, and elsewhere.
The government is seeking to pressure al-Shabab from multiple angles, including financial ones. This is the most significant offensive against the group in over a decade, with Somali fighters taking the lead, supported by U.S. and African Union forces.
The U.S. has supported the Somali National Army with a recent donation of $9 million in heavy weapons and equipment.
According to a database by International Crisis Group analyst Omar Mahmood, the Somali government has claimed that more than 1,200 militants have been killed since August. However, these claims cannot be verified.
The Somali National Army is expected to take over the country’s security from the African Union multinational force by the end of next year.