At least eight soldiers, including a senior intelligence commander, were killed Sunday in a roadside bombing in Somalia claimed by the Al Shabaab extremist group, military officials and witnesses told AFP.
The explosion tore through a military vehicle just outside Dhusamareb, a district in central Somalia some 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of the capital Mogadishu.
“We believe their vehicle hit a landmine planted by the terrorists just outside Dhusamareb,” said Mohamed Ali, a military officer in Dhusamareb, district. “Eight security forces members were killed” and two others wounded, he added. “Among the dead was Abdirashid Abdinur, the commander of the National Security Agency (NISA) in Dhusamareb district.”
Abdiweli Adan, another security officer, said the soldiers were conducting security operations in the area when they hit a roadside bomb. “The blast ripped through the vehicle and killed most of those onboard. One or two soldiers survived with serious injuries,” he said.
Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in a brief statement, in which they said they had killed 14 soldiers, including a senior commander.
The militants have been waging a violent insurgency across the Horn of Africa country seeking to unseat the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu.
They were driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 but still control swathes of territory from where they plan and launch frequent, deadly strikes against government and civilian targets.
Military officials on Friday said several mortar rounds were fired at Dhusamareb town where Somalia’s president and regional leaders were meeting to try and agree on a plan for delayed elections.
There were no reports of injuries in the attack, which officials blamed on Al Shabaab.
At least five people, including a prominent former general, were killed in attack on a Mogadishu hotel on January 31 by the Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists.