MOGADISHU: The death toll from two bombings that killed a parliamentary election candidate in central Somalia has risen to 48, a regional leader said on Thursday.
Amina Mohammed, a vocal critic of the government, was killed on Wednesday by a suicide bomber in the city of Beledweyne, around 300 km north of Mogadishu, on the eve of her expected reelection, witnesses and relatives said.
“The two blasts killed 48 people including traders, clerics, officials and civilians and injured 108 others,” Ali Gudlawe Hussein, president of Hirshabelle state, said in a statement broadcast on Facebook.
“The first suicide bomber targeted lawmaker Amina and those with her. And when the casualties were taken to hospital, a suicide car bomb targeted them.”
Al-Qaeda-linked militant group Al-Shabab said it was behind the bombings.
Somalia is conducting parliamentary elections in an indirect process that involves clan elders picking the 275 members of the lower house, who then choose a new president on a date yet to be fixed.
In a statement late on Wednesday, Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble said Wednesday’s killings were aimed at disrupting the elections.
Data from the election commission shows that the election of 246 MPs has so far been completed, ahead of an April 15 deadline.
Witnesses described carnage outside the hospital in Beledweyne.
“The second blast was very huge, it occurred in front of the hospital and my brother and one of our neighbors were among the dead,” said Mahad Yare, a Beledweyne resident.
The British Ambassador to Somalia, Katie Foster, shared her condolences on Twitter, saying: “We strongly condemn the use of violence to intimidate and disrupt the elections.”
The EU’s ambassador to the country, Tiina Intelmann, also offered condolences, writing on Twitter: “Violence is not a way forward for #Somalia. #EU condemns terrorism and politically motivated killings.”