al shebab

At least 16 people were killed when Somalia?s Shebab insurgents attacked a police station Tuesday, with a suicide car bomber blasting open the compound before commandos entered spraying gunfire, an army officer said. Witnesses reported bodies strewn around the blast site, the latest in a string of bombs and shootings in the central Somali town of Beledweyne claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab.

?We have confirmed 16 people dead including soldiers and civilians, while others were injured, some seriously,? senior Somali army officer Abdi Mohamed Ali told AFP, adding that four Shebab gunmen had also been killed.

Beledweyne?s police commissioner Issac Ali said those killed were ?mainly civilians?.

The Shebab boasted of killing 20 soldiers, including Somali forces and Djiboutian troops with the African Union (AU) force and Ethiopian soldiers based at the police compound.

?Several of our special mujahedeen commandos carried out the attack on the military base in Beledweyne? they have killed many of the enemy,? local Shebab commander Sheikh Mohamed Abu Suleiman told AFP.

Shebab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab, who said one attacker blew himself up in a car at the gate before gunmen entered the compound, reported that the insurgents had ?killed mainly Somalis but also some Djiboutians?, and called the attack a ?victory?.

Witnesses said the car rammed the gate of the police station before bursting into a huge ball of flames.

?The car hit the gate of the police station and exploded, then after the explosion men with machine guns stormed the building. There was lots of shooting,? said Hassan Nur, who saw the attack. ?I saw several bodies lying around the area where the car blew up.?

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud condemned the ?self-defeating? attack.

?Al-Shebab wants to terrorise the people, while the government is bringing peace and stability to Somalia,? he said in a statement. Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon called the Shebab the ?enemies of peace?, who offered ?nothing but indiscriminate violence and suffering to innocent Somalis?.

AU special representative for Somalia Mahamat Saleh Annadif ?strongly condemned? the attack, but made no comment on any possible casualties among the AU force.

Source:  AFP

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