Suicide bombers kill at least three in southern Somali city

MOGADISHU (Reuters) – At least three people were killed when two suspected suicide bombers struck separately in the southern Somali city of Baidoa on Saturday, police said.

Al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab militants, who want to topple Somalia’s Western-backed central government and impose their own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islam’s sharia law, claimed responsibility for the twin attacks.

“What seems to be two suicide bombers blew themselves up in two restaurants in Baidoa. So far we know three civilians have died,” Ali Aden, a police officer in the city, told Reuters.

Residents of Baidoa told Reuters they heard two loud blasts in the early evening, followed by huge plumes of the smoke that were visible from far.

The al Shabaab militants had targeted the two restaurants because they were frequented by government troops, Abdiasis abu Musab, the group’s spokesman for military operations, told Reuters.

The attacks follow a U.S. airstrike against al Shabaab militants in Haradere, a district in Galmudug region.

The U.S. military’s Africa Command said on Saturday it was still assessing the impact of the strike, which was carried out on Friday together with the Somali military.

Somalia has been engulfed by violence and lawlessness since the early 1990s after the toppling of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

(Reporting by Feisal Omar; Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Clelia Oziel)