MOGADISHU, Somalia — A suicide bomber blew himself up Saturday inside a restaurant in central Somalia, killing at least 15 people, officials and residents said.
The restaurant in Beledweyne, just over 186 miles north of Mogadishu and close to the border with Ethiopia, is frequented by Ethiopian and Somali troops.
Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Islamist militia al-Shabaab, which controls rural parts of central and southern Somalia, though it is on the back foot, facing a counter-insurgency led by the national army and supported by foreign troops from several African nations.
At least two Somali troops were among the dead. “So far we can confirm that 15 people are dead in the blast and nearly 30 others were rushed to local hospitals,” said the deputy commissioner for Beledweyne’s local government, Bashir Husein Dhore.
Most of the wounded were local residents.
An al-Shabaab member named Abu Yusuf told dpa that the group was behind the attack which “killed many enemies and their puppets in that area.”
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for last month’s attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya, which left at least 67 dead. Kenya has forces operating in southern Somalia, near its border with the troubled Horn of Africa nation.
Uganda, a major contributor to the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM), is currently on a nationwide “red alert.”
The United States issued a warning on Wednesday saying Uganda faces a possible imminent terror attack, similar to the Westgate assault.
Twin suicide attacks in Uganda in 2010, killing more than 70 people, were claimed by al-Shabaab.