Somali market bombing kills 11

2012-04-09 18:50

Mogadishu - A bomb blast in a market in the strategic Somali town of Baidoa on Monday killed at least 11 people and wounded many more in the latest in a string of attacks in the war-torn nation, an official said.

"At least 11 people - most of them women and children - were killed by a bomb placed in a busy market," said lawmaker Mohamed Ibrahim Habsade.

The attack was the worst in Baidoa since the southern town was wrested from al-Qaeda allied Shabaab insurgents by Ethiopian-backed Somali forces in February.

"Many more were injured in the explosion, which was biggest since we took control of the town," Habsade said.

Witnesses said the bomb was detonated after Somali government troops entered the market, but that the majority of those killed were civilians.

"This was a disaster," said Adan Hassan, a witness. "I saw several dead bodies of at least nine civilians, most of them women - the explosion occurred as people were shopping."

"Around 35 people were injured, some of the seriously," said Abdirahman Waney, another witness.

Baidoa, located 250km northwest of Mogadishu, was the seat of Somalia's transitional parliament until the hardline Shabaab captured it three years ago.

Amisom deployed

African Union troops deployed in the town last week, the first time the force has dispatched troops outside the capital Mogadishu since the 10 000-strong force was set up five years ago.

The AU Mission in Somalia (Amisom) sent 100 Burundian and Ugandan soldiers to Baidoa following Ethiopia's capture of the town from the hardline Shabaab.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for Monday's bombing, but the Shababa have launched a series of recent guerilla attacks and vowed to topple the Western-backed government.

Last week, six people including two top Somali sports officials were killed in an attack on the newly reopened national theatre in Mogadishu by a female suicide bomber.

A broad offensive by Ethiopian and Kenyan forces in southern and western Somalia has forced the rebels from many of their strongholds, while AU troops in Mogadishu have advanced on to the outskirts of the city.

Despite the losses, the Shabaab - Somalia's most brutal militia - remain a serious threat to internationally backed efforts to restore stability in the Horn of African country plagued by a devastating civil war since 1991.

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