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Suicide blast at Somalia restaurant kills at least 16

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the suicide blast at a restaurant in the town of Beledweyne in central Somalia on Saturday.

Somalia restaurant blast 2013 10 19Enlarge
Bodies lie in a morgue after a suicide attack on Oct. 19, 2013, in Beledweyne, Somalia. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the bombing at a restaurant in the central Somali town that killed at least 15 people. (MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB /AFP/Getty Images)

The militant group Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for a suicide blast that killed at least 16 people and injured another 30 people Saturday at a restaurant the central Somali town of Beledweyne.

The attacker, strapped with explosives, walked into the restaurant and took a seat among other diners before setting off the explosives tied around his waist around 11 a.m., according to The Associated Press.

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"Our main target was Ethiopian and Djibouti troops who invaded our country. They were sitting there," Al Shabaab spokesman Abdiaziz Abu Musab said in a statement.

However, witnesses told the BBC most of those killed were civilians.

"Some people were killed while drinking tea and others as they were walking past. It was an incident that terrorized the town's inhabitants," Beledweyne resident Ahmed Mohamud told AFP.

Somali MP in Beledweyne, Dahir Amin Jessow also confirmed that claim.

Somalia's president and prime minister both condemned the attack.

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"This cowardly act was perpetrated by the violent elements that have no basis in Islamic ideology," President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said. 

A peacekeeping force from the African Union is in Somalia to help local forces fight Al Shabaab, and a spokesman for the African Union told The New York Times it was trying to determine whether any of its soldiers were killed or injured in the blast.

The attack comes four weeks after Al Shabaab laid siege to the Westgate mall in Nairobi, the capital of neighboring Kenya, bringing worldwide attention to the militant Islamic group.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/somalia/131019/suicide-blast-at-somalia-restaurant-kills-15