(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
MOGADISHU - At least 6 people died on Sunday after a suicide bomber blew himself up in a restaurant just outside a senior official's office in the central Somali city of Beledweyne, police and residents said.
The al Qaida-linked al Shabaab group said it was behind the attack.
"At least six people died and several others were wounded. A suicide bomber blew up himself in a restaurant," major Hussein Osman, a police officer told Reuters from Beledweyne.
The Sunday afternoon blast took place outside the office of the governor of the Hiran region, where he was holding a meeting, police and residents said.
"We are behind the attack at the Hiran governor's headquarters. There are casualties. We targeted the workers of the Hiran administration," said Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operation spokesman.
Beledweyne is about 340 km north of Mogadishu.
Residents said clan elders were among the dead.
"The suicide bomber who had an explosive jacket stood inside the restaurant and blew up himself. We were heading to a meeting in the governor’s office when it happened," Farah Ali, a local elder, told Reuters.
Somalia has been at war since 1991, when clan-based warlords overthrew dictator Siad Barre and then turned on each other.
Al Shabaab has in the past carried out frequent attacks in Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia in a bid to topple the country's Western-backed government and drive out African Union peacekeeping troops.
Al Shabaab also wants to impose its strict interpretation of Islam in Somalia.