Police said the explosion caused “enormous damage” to a restaurant packed with politicians and government officials.

At least 13 people were killed in central Somalia on Saturday after a suicide bomber detonated explosives at a restaurant packed with local officials and politicians.

Police spokesman Dini Roble Ahmed said the dead were mostly civilians and 20 others were injured in the town of Beledweyne. He added that the explosion caused “huge damage”.

Witnesses said a large explosion swept through an open space at the Hassan Dhiif restaurant as people gathered under trees for lunch.

“I saw several bodies and I can’t count how many wounded were taken to the hospital,” said witness Mahad Osman. “Some of these people were enjoying the fresh weather when the explosion happened. , while waiting for the food they ordered to arrive.”

Police and government officials confirmed the restaurant attack was caused by a suicide bomber, but did not give the number of casualties.

The attack came despite Beledweyne tightening security measures ahead of the first round of voting for a constituency council seat 340 kilometers (210 miles) north of the capital Mogadishu.

Officer Mohammad Hassan said two deputy district commissioners were among the dead. “It was the deadliest attack in this town that I can recall.”

a series of attacks

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a report by the SITE intelligence agency, which monitors armed groups online.

The group regularly targets government targets and civilians, carrying out two attacks in the past two weeks. Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab aims to overthrow the central government.

One of the people killed in the attack in Beledweyne was a candidate for the ongoing parliamentary election, residents said.

Parliamentary elections, which began on November 1 and were scheduled to end on December 24, are currently scheduled to be completed on February 25.

Under Somalia’s indirect election process, representatives, including tribal elders, elect members of the House of Commons, which will then elect a new president on an as-yet-undetermined date.

The latest al-Shabaab attack could create more problems for elections that have been delayed by a year.

The electoral standoff has worried Somalia’s international supporters, who fear it will distract from the fight against al-Shabaab, which has been fighting a weak central government for more than a decade.

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