UPDATED: A massive explosion in Beledweyne near one of the city’s checkpoints has killed at least 18 people and injured dozens of others. No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the suspected suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) blast. However, it is largely believed that the militant al-Shabaab is behind the attack.
Beledweyne, Hiran region, HirShabelle, SOMALIA. By Dalmar:
The extremist group is the only entity capable of carrying out such a massive attack. Although analysts initially expected the group to claim responsibility, that did not happen. There seem to be at least two reasons for that.
First, the explosive-laden truck evidently didn’t reach its intended target. It was stopped in a residential area at a checkpoint and not allowed to proceed. The target remains unclear. Secondly, civilian casualties are reportedly very high – at least 18 dead and over a hundred injured. This presents a similar propagandistic challenge for al-Shabaab as with the attack at Zoobe Junction in Mogadishu on 14 October 2017, which claimed so many civilian casualties that al-Shabaab was too embarrassed to claim responsibility.
The enormous blast yesterday created a white plume of smoke above the explosion site and caused vast destruction. Videos circulating on social media show residents searching for survivors in the rubble of the destroyed buildings.
Abdirahman Dahir Gure, the Minister of Interior of the Hirshabelle State, informed the journalists about forty injured residents. “Twenty of the wounded have been admitted to Beledweyne hospitals, while another twenty are in critical condition, prompting a request for their airlift to Mogadishu for advanced medical treatment,” he said.
Beledweyne is a central Somali city and the capital of the Hiran region (recently self-proclaimed Hiran State). It lies in the Shebelle Valley riverine near the Ethiopian border.
The explosion comes when the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, is in Djibouti to gather support for the worsening security situation in Somalia.