Somalia’s al-Shabab insurgents said they carried out a suicide attack at a hotel in the central town of Galkayo Thursday in which six people died, including a senior local government official.
“There was a blast, a suicide bomber blew himself up killing several people including a senior official,” said police officer Abdiweli Adan.
Witnesses said there was large blast near a cafe where people had gathered to drink tea.
“I heard a heavy explosion and I have seen parts of dead bodies, several bits of them were strewn across the area,” said local resident Ahmed Sadaq.
Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab rebels -- who are fighting to overthrow the country’s internationally-backed government -- said they carried out the attack, in a statement broadcast on the insurgents’ Radio Andalus.
“The mujahedeen fighters targeted the head of the finances for Puntland in the Mudug region, and together with five of his security guards they were killed in the attack,” the radio broadcast said quoting Shebab commanders.
Galkayo, which straddles the border between the two districts of Puntland and Galmudug, lies some 650 kilometres (400 miles) northeast of the capital Mogadishu.
Turkish hospital workers killed
The suicide attack came a day after several people were gunned down in shootings in the capital.
On Wednesday evening, gunmen killed six people in a drive-by shooting, including two Turkish hospital workers, authorities said.
“Six civilians, two of them Turkish nationals, have been killed, and six more were wounded,” said Abdifatah Omar Halane, spokesman for the Mogadishu city authorities, said Thursday.
Those killed also included the driver and security guards of the Turks.
Somalia’s Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke condemned the attack.
“We condemn this cowardly act, and our thoughts are with the relatives of the victims and the Turkish government,” Sharmarke said in a statement. “These innocent Turkish citizens have lost their lives while supporting their Somali brothers.”
Turkey is a major investor in, and donor to, Somalia.
No group has so far claimed responsibility.
In a separate incident on Wednesday, witnesses said four people were killed, including three civilians caught in the crossfire, during a shootout between members of rival units within the Somali army.
“The soldiers were trying to shoot another soldier, but they have killed him together with three civilians who were passing by,” said Abdirasak Ali, a witness. Several other witnesses confirmed the deaths.
The Shebab carry out regular attacks in Mogadishu but the seaside capital is anarchic and is still awash with weapons after decades of war.
Somalia, riven by decades of conflict, is also struggling to cope with severe drought.
Northern Somali areas, including self-declared independent Somaliland along the Gulf of Aden and semi-autonomous Puntland, are especially hard hit, with some 385,000 people in dire need of food aid, according to the UN, with that figure feared to quadruple without help.