A suicide bomber on Monday struck a military training camp in the Somalian capital Mogadishu, killing at least 20 soldiers, officials said.
The attack at the Jaalle Siyad Military Academy was swiftly claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab group.
“Over 20 people were killed in the explosion,” Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimu, a member of the Somali parliament, told AFP.
“The victims were not ordinary youths, they were servicemen who stood to defend their country from the terrorists,” Moalimu said, adding that he felt “pity about the tragedy.”
Another legislator, who asked not to be named, said the toll stood at 27 with nearly 60 others wounded.
A lone jihadist entered the base, where the 14th infantry brigade was about to begin a refresher training course, and detonated the explosive vest he was wearing, witnesses said.
“I was at a nearby military camp when the blast occurred and we rushed to the scene, it was horrible,” Mohamed Hassan, a member of the Somali army, said.
“There are still investigations going on and the death toll may go higher,” he added.
It was not immediately clear how the terrorist gained access to the camp.
The 14th infantry brigade was formed to commemorate the deadliest attack in Somalia on October 14, 2017, when a truck packed with explosives blew up in a bustling commercial district, killing 512 people and injuring another 295.
The Somali parliament offered condolences to the families of the soldiers killed in Monday’s attack.
“This is a national tragedy,” deputy speaker Abdulahi Omar Abshirow said.
Al-Shabaab, which is affiliated with Al-Qaeda, has been trying to overthrow the foreign-backed government in Mogadishu since 2007 through a bloody insurgency.
Its fighters were driven from Mogadishu in 2011 but it remains a deadly force, despite a major offensive launched last August by pro-government forces, backed by African Union troops and US air strikes.
The group still controls swathes of the countryside and continues to wage deadly strikes on civilian, political, and military targets.
A roadside bombing blamed on the jihadist group this month killed eight members of an extended family near a village outside Buloburde, which lies about 220 kilometers (140 miles) north of the capital.