The leader of Somalia’s Hirshabelle region says dozens of people were killed Wednesday in attacks in the city of Beledweyne, including a member of the Somali parliament. Several more people died when militants opened fire at an airport in Somalia’s capital.
In an address aired by state TV, Hirshabelle region president Ali Gudlawe said authorities have been gathering information since Wednesday night about victims in Beledweyne. He said there are 48 confirmed dead and 108 injured.
The attacks began when a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest blew himself up at the local government headquarters. Later, another suicide bomber drove an explosive-laden car into a crowd of people who had gathered to help those wounded in the first attack.
Separately, two gunmen opened fire at Mogadishu’s main airport on Wednesday, killing at least six people before the gunmen were shot and killed by security guards.
Militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attacks in both cities.
Gudlawe said this was the worst attack Beledweyne has seen, and it terrorized the entire town.
He offered his first condolences to the family and friends of Amina Mohamed Abdi, a member of parliament killed by a suicide bomber.
Abdi’s body was flown to Mogadishu for a funeral Thursday that was attended by Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, the speaker of parliament and other well-known Mogadishu politicians.
Both Roble and Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo condemned the twin attacks in Beledweyne, as well as the attack in Mogadishu. They said the attacks were meant to disrupt Somalia’s elections and intimidate the Somali people and international partners.
According to Somalia’s election commission, 246 out of 275 members of parliament’s lower house have been chosen through Somalia’s system of indirect elections.
Once all the members are selected, lawmakers will choose a new president on a date to be determined.