At least ten people have been killed and scores of others injured in a bomb attack at a local restaurant in a central town in Somalia.
The attack in Beledweyne on Saturday, claimed by the Takfiri al-Shabab terrorists, was carried out at an open area of the Hassan Dhiif restaurant where people had gathered under the trees for lunch.
Citing local police officer Mohamud Hassan, AFP said two deputy district commissioners were among the dead, while 16 civilians were wounded. "This was the deadliest attack I can recall in this town."
One of those killed was a candidate in the parliamentary elections, according to witnesses.
Security has been tightened in Beledweyne on the eve of the first round of voting for the elections. Still, acts of terror have haunted the town.
The elections began in November and were initially supposed to end in late December. Now the elections are due to be completed on Friday.
Somalia, particularly the capital Mogadishu, has seen a spate of attacks in recent weeks.
On February 16, the al-Shabab terrorists launched simultaneous attacks on police stations around the capital. Five people were killed, including two children.
The al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab terror group has been fighting Somalia’s central government for more than a decade.
Despite being ousted from large parts of south and central Somalia, al-Shabab retains a significant presence, reportedly roaming freely and posing a threat in regions outside the capital where the central government hardly holds sway. The group launches regular attacks on government, military and civilian targets. It also aims to drive out African Union peacekeeping troops.
The country is also beset by the growing threat of Daesh as the Takfiri terrorist group is seeking to find a new foothold after being vanquished from Iraq and much of Syria.