At least three people were killed and 13 others were wounded after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a teashop in the central Somali town of Beledweyne Sunday, police and witnesses said.
Police said the attack occurred close to the headquarters of Hiran regional administration in Beledweyne.
“The explosion happened at 12:10pm [local time] it was a time people at the teashop were preparing to go to the mosques to pray,” Commander of the police Colonel Isaq Ali Abdulle told VOA Somali.
Three journalists are among the wounded, says VOA Somali reporter Hussein Hassan Dhaqane.
Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack.
“All of the victims are innocent Somalis, the teashop is owned by civilians, this is a place where people sit, drink tea and rest,” said Colonel Abdulle, who referred to al-Shabab as a "blood thirsty group."
Witnesses told VOA Somali that the explosion was loud and shook the area.
“I was just 20 meters away when it exploded, I left the teashop moments earlier because I received a call, the place was packed,” said a witness who requested anonymity.
Beledweyne, 345 kilometers north of Mogadishu, is the capital of Hiran region. The town is also a base for African Union troops from Djibouti and Ethiopia.
The attack comes just three days after another suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest attacked a restaurant in Baidoa, killing five people including two Somali humanitarian aid workers