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Somalia twin attack: Politician killed in bomb blasts

March 23, 2022

Vocal government critic Amina Mohamed Abdi is reported to be among dozens killed in two bomb blasts in the Somali city of Beledweyne. Al-Shabab has now claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Picture of Amina Mohamed Abdi
Amina Mohamed was known for her fiery speeches was aiming to be reelected in the upcoming electionsImage: Feisal Omar/REUTERS

A young female lawmaker was among 48 killed in a twin attack on Wednesday in the city of Beledweyne, around 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of Mogadishu.

Amina Mohamed Abdi, a vocal critic of the government known for her fiery speeches, was killed by suicide bomber as she approached a building housing leaders of Somalia's Hirshabele state.

Shortly after, a second blast was caused by a car bomb in front of the city's main hospital, where the injured were later taken.

The death toll increased dramatically from the 10 to 15 initially reported.

At least one more politician and security officials were also killed, the local police spokesperson Hassan Dhi'isow told German news agency DPA.

Deutsche Welle was not able to independently verify the number of fatalities.

Abdi was running to be reelected in the next Somali elections and was reportedly in the city  to defend her seat.

The Islamist extremist rebel group Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

It comes just hours after a separate incident involved Somali security services battling with armed Al-Shabab attackers near Mogadishu's international airport. 

Picture of bomb blasts in Beledweyne, Somalia on Wednesday.
Emergency workers had found bodies buried under debris and 108 are said to have been injured in the twin blasts.Image: Hassan Ali Elmi/AFP/Getty Images

What did eye witness reports reveal?

"I heard a huge blast, I went to the scene which is just at the entrance of the state house," local elder, Aden Farah, told the Reuters news agency by telephone. "May God rest her soul."

 "I was at a walking distance to the polling station when a suicide bomber rushed towards the member of parliament Amina and embraced her and blew himself up," eyewitness Dhaqane Hassan told news agency AP.

A Beledweyne resident told news agency AFP he had lost his brother in the car bomb near the hospital.

"The second blast was very huge, it occurred in front of the hospital and my brother and one of our neighbours were among the dead," Mahad Yare said.

"As far as we can confirm, 48 people were killed and 108 others injured in the twin blasts," said Ali Gudlawe Hussein, leader of Hirshabelle state.

He added that emergency workers had found bodies buried under debris.

"We are urging (citizens) to be very vigilant, we are ordering all security agencies to beef up security," Hussein said.

'Somalia lost a fearless advocate'

Parliamentarian Abdirizak Mohamed tweeted: "Somalia has lost a promising giant leader, an activist, a fearless advocate who finally paid the ultimate price for seeking justice for Ikram Tahlil."

Ikram Tahlil was a female intelligence officer whose killing Abdi had reportedly been trying to investigate.

Abdi was running to be reelected in the next Somali elections and was reportedly in the city to defend her seat.

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo has sent his "deepest condolences to the family and relatives of Amina Mohamed Abdi," the government's official Twitter page said.

The country's Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble has said on social media following the apparent bombing: "I strongly condemn the terrorist attack on Amina Mohamed Abdi in Beledweyne tonight."

He also urged security agencies to carry out a thorough investigation into the killing of Abdi, who he described as an exemplary politician.

The British ambassador to Somalia, Katie Foster, said on Twitter: "We strongly condemn the use of violence to intimidate and disrupt the elections."

Meanwhile, the EU's ambassador to the East African nation, Tiina Intelmann, tweeted saying "violence is not a way forward for Somalia," adding that the EU condemns "terrorism and politically motivated killings."

After several delays and missed deadlines, Somalia's lower house election is now due to be completed on March 31,  bringing lawmakers a step closer to picking a president.

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fh/rt (dpa, AFP, AP, Reuters)