MOGADISHU, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) — Somalia and the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) on Sunday condemned a suicide bomb attack carried out by al-Shabab terrorists Saturday in Beledweyne, central Somalia, which left at least 20 people dead and several others wounded.
In separate statements, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, and Mohammed El-Amine Souef, the special representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia and head of ATMIS, vowed to step up efforts to stabilize Somalia despite increased attacks from the terror group.
“President Mohamud vowed that the Somali government and people will not give up on their fight against terrorists and their evil agenda,” the presidency said.
President Mohamud sent his condolences to the families of the victims and wished the injured quick recovery.
A suicide bomber detonated a truck laden with explosives devices at a security checkpoint near a market and two gasoline stations in Beledweyne city in the Hiran region.
Some of the victims have been airlifted to Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, to receive specialized treatment.
Souef said the heinous attack on innocent civilians was intended to divert attention to the significant losses al-Shabab has suffered from the ongoing government-led offensives.
“On behalf of ATMIS, I extend our condolences to families, relatives, and friends who lost their loved ones and wish a speedy recovery to the injured,” he said.
He said the ATMIS supported the swift response by Somali Security Forces (SSF) in preventing further loss of life and destruction of properties and remains committed to working jointly with the SSF for a stable and secure Somalia.
The Somali National Army (SNA) backed by the African Union Mission in Somalia drove al-Shabab out of Mogadishu in 2011, but the terror group is still capable of conducting attacks, targeting government installations, hotels, restaurants, and public places. ■