Death toll soars to 48 after bombings in Somalia’s Baladweyne town

MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – At least 48 people were killed and 108 others wounded in blasts in the central Somalia town of Baladweyne on Wednesday, Hirshabelle regional President Ali Gudlawe said at a press conference on Thursday.

It was confirmed that at least 48 people had lost their lives [in the explosions] … and the number of wounded is at least 108 people,” he said, promising that authorities would spare no effort to airlift patients sustaining severe injuries to hospitals in the capital Mogadishu.

The regional leader asked federal and regional forces to beef up security, and politicians participating in ongoing parliamentary elections to stay alert.

Among the dead was Amina Mohamed Abdi, an MP critic of the incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and his administration who had also pushed for efforts to find justice in the murder of a female spy from her constituency whose family pointed finger at the former intelligence boss Fahad Yasin and his allies. read more

The first attack carried out by a suicide bomber targeted the MP at the gate of Hirshabelle presidential complex in the heavily fortified Lamagalaay military base in Baladweyne while the second assault, a car bomb, struck vehicles ferrying injured people outside the city’s main hospital, according to regional police chief.

Al-Qaeda-linked militant group said it had conducted the deadly attack.

Two fighters of the Islamist group Al-Shabaab burst their way into a highly protected base housing foreign diplomatic missions inside Mogadishu airport on Wednesday, where they battled African Union peacekeepers and Somali security forces for hours, killing a number of foreign nationals. read more

In a statement, Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble linked the assassination of Amina Mohamed to the disappearance of female intelligence officer Ikran Tahlil Farah last year and said perpetrators would be brought to justice. He said both attacks were linked and were aimed at disrupting ongoing polls. read more

A local police official told reporters on Thursday morning that a car bomb explosion outside Baladweyne Hospital was the heaviest since 2009 when Al-Shabaab killed Somalia’s Security Minister Omar Hashi in a similar assault.

Former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud called for an “international probe” into the attacks in Baladweyne and Halane base in Mogadishu and ruled out that insurgents had been behind both incidents. read more

The incident at Adan Adde Airport in Mogadishu today and the assault in the presidential palace of Hirshabelle in the town of Baladweyne are not normal incidents and cannot be described as terrorist incidents,” former Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said in a video circulated online.

Therefore, I suggest that an international probe be launched into those issues.”

International partners struck a cautious tone in statements issued to condemn recent bomb and gun attacks in Mogadishu and Baladweyne.

EU ambassador to Somalia Tiina Intelmann decried the killing of federal MP Amina Mohamed in a suicide bomb in Baladweyne, which it described as a politically motivated assassination. read more

Violence is not a way forward for Somalia. EU condemns terrorism and politically motivated killings. Condolences to the family of MP Amina Mohamed Abdi,” EU ambassador to Somalia tweeted.

The United Nations mission in Somalia added its voice to growing calls for an investigation into the killing of opposition MP and urged authorities to speed up the conduct of parliamentary votes. read more

The United States denounced attacks on Halane base in Mogadishu and Hirshabelle Presidential compound in Baladweyne on Wednesday.

The United States condemns those who seek to murder and destroy. We support those who seek to build a secure, prosperous, and peaceful Somalia. Together let’s advance Somalia’s revival,” Washington’s embassy in Mogadishu tweeted.

Former leader of Hirshabelle state Mohamed Abdi Ware blamed Somali President’s office for the assassination, years after he had left his post in a region plagued by frequent insurgency attacks.

In a press conference, the mother of slain female spy officer Ikran Tahlil Farah said the prominent Somali MP paid heavy price for her pursuit of justice in the case of her daughter. The family earlier accused former spy boss Fahad Yasin and his aides of playing a role in Ikran’s disappearance.

The assaults on Wednesday and similar incidents over the past weeks are a sign of ever-growing power of Al-Shabaab armed group in Somalia, the wealthiest Al-Qaeda-affiliate in the world, analysts say. US military asked Biden administration over the past weeks to redeploy commandos back to the Horn of Africa nation to help Somali troops fight militants.

In Somalia Al-Shabaab is the real state. The federal government is a ‘shadow state’. Once you come to that profound conclusion you stop expecting much. Your learn to live with despair,” Rashid Abdi, a regional political analyst tweeted.

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