Somalia suicide bomber attacks govt office
24 January 2012, 11:59
Mogadishu - An al Shabaab fighter
rammed a minibus loaded with explosives into a government
building in central Somalia used by troops and politicians on
Tuesday, a military official and an al Shabaab spokesman said.
The attack occurred in Baladweyne, a town near the Ethiopian
border which was captured by Ethiopian troops about three weeks
ago. Both Ethiopia and Kenya have sent troops into Somalia to
fight al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab following a wave of
cross-border attacks and kidnappings that Nairobi blamed on the
The militia, which left most of its bases in the capital
Mogadishu last August, has launched guerrilla-style attacks
despite losing ground in some key southern strongholds since the
incursion by Ethiopian and Kenyan troops.
"A minibus carrying explosives entered Baladweyne
administration headquarters compound. Government soldiers tried
to stop it by firing but all in vain," Hussein Aden, a senior
military official, told Reuters by phone.
Aden said there was no immediate report of casualties and
the area surrounding the compound had been sealed off.
Aden Abdulle, head of a pro-government militia group
fighting alongside Somali and Ethiopian soldiers against al
Shabaab, told Reuters the building attacked by the rebels housed
Transitional Federal Government lawmakers and Ethiopian and
Somali government soldiers.
Abdulle said the number of casualties was unknown.
Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack and said it
had inflicted many casualties.
"We carried the car bomb successfully into the Ethiopian and
Somali base in Baladweyne this morning. Our brave driver is
martyred. There we killed many Ethiopian and Somali troops on a
parade," al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab told
Reuters by phone.
Ethiopian soldiers previously went into Somalia in 2006, and
left in early 2009 after pushing the Islamist organization,
Islamic Courts Union, out of the capital Mogadishu.
Al Shabaab, which wants to impose a harsh interpretation of
sharia, Islamic law, on the Horn of Africa nation, has waged a
bloody five-year campaign to drive the largely impotent
government from power.
The Western-backed government is supported by an African
Union military force.