The president of Somalia’s Galmudug regional state was unhurt but two federal lawmakers were wounded when a bomb-laden car exploded in a central Somali village Friday, according to witnesses and officials.
The al-Shabab militant group said it was behind the suicide attack that appears to have targeted regional president Ahmed Abdi Kariye, also known as Qorqor.
The officials were in Las-Ga’amey, a small village in the Mudug region, when the blast struck, the commander of Galmudug regional troops, General Mohamed Nur Ali Gadar, told VOA.
“Our valiant soldiers foiled the attack by opening fire on the suicide car bomb as it speedily tried to enter the center of the village. The bomber was shot dead and his car bomb exploded,” the commander said.
Local officials said the car blew up about 300 meters from the guest house where the president and his traveling party were staying.
Abshir Abdi Shikhow, the Galmudug information minister, said three government soldiers were killed and several others, including the lawmakers, were wounded.
Lawmaker Abdisalam Haji Dhabancad said he and Senator Abdi Hassan Qaybdid sustained minor injuries when pieces of wall fell on them after the blast.
The two federal lawmakers wounded in the attack were visiting the village to encourage government troops. Somali government forces and local militia recently liberated Las-Ga’amey from al-Shabab control.
In a recorded video, Galmudug President Kariye said that the al-Shabab attack had failed.
“The cowardly terrorist attack had failed. Thank God. We are safe and sound. Such attacks show how they are desperate in the war and in coming days you would hear significant government [progress] in the war against al-Shabab,” said Kariye.
Earlier this week, a member of the Galmudug regional parliament and a local councilor were killed in a landmine explosion in El-Garas town in the Galgadud region.
In August 2022, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud launched what he called a “total war” against al-Shabab. In the first phase, Somali forces, backed by local militia, took control of al-Shabab-ruled areas in the central regions of Hiiran and Middle Shabelle.
Last week, President Mohamud said the ongoing military offensive against al-Shabab aims to eliminate the al-Qaida-linked group within a few months.
Somalia's federal government has been engaged in a protracted war against al-Shabab for more than a decade, with support from international partners and the African Union military.
Despite significant progress, the extremist group maintains control of large rural areas of the country and continues to carry out attacks in the capital, Mogadishu, and other areas.
Abdiwahid Isaq contributed to this report.