Toll from twin bomb attack in Somalia rises to 15

The attack came a day after a new federal regional leader took power in Baidoa

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The toll from a twin bomb attack in the central Somali town of Baidoa has risen to 15, police said on Saturday, as the president decried what he called a desperate strike.

“The number of people who were confirmed dead are fifteen,” said Somali police official Osmail Mohamed.

Friday’s blast was the latest in a string of attacks and saw a suicide bomber detonate his explosives among a crowd of people drinking at a busy teashop in the town.

A second blast then went off as rescuers went to help the wounded.

Those killed included two journalists, colleagues said on Friday.

Somalia President Hassan Sheik Mohamud decried the attack as an act of desperation.

“The suicide blast which targeted innocent civilians demonstrates solely the desperateness of the violent elements whose agenda is to derail the tranquility and development of this society,” he said in a statement.

The attack came a day after a new federal regional leader took power in Baidoa, some 250 kilometers (155 miles) northwest of the capital Mogadishu.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Somalia’s al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab rebels have previously carried out repeated attacks in the town as part of their fight to overthrow the country’s internationally-backed government.

Recent al-Shabab attacks in Somalia have targeted key government and security sites in an apparent bid to discredit claims by the authorities and African Union troops that they are winning the war.

On Thursday they wounded an MP and killed a former lawmaker in Mogadishu, while on Wednesday an al-Shabab suicide bomber killed four when they rammed a car packed with explosives into a United Nations convoy.

Al-Shabab have also stepped up operations in neighboring Kenya, and on Tuesday massacred 36 non-Muslim quarry workers in a Kenyan border town.

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