, MOGADISHU, Jan 31 – At least two people were killed on Tuesday when a suicide bomber attacked the house of a senior militia commander in the central Somali town of Galkayo, officials said.
“A man wearing an explosive vest blew himself up after he was stopped by security guards” as he tried to enter the main gate of Abdi Hasan Qeybdid, a former police chief and warlord, said local security official Abdisalan Mohamed.
“There was a shootout between him and the guards, before a big explosion that shook the main gate, killing two guards and the bomber,” Mohamed said, adding that four people were injured but that Qeybdid was not hurt.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest in a string of blasts including roadside bombs and grenade explosions set off in recent months in the war-torn Horn of Africa nation.
Most have been set off inside the Somali capital Mogadishu, where Islamist Shabaab insurgents have largely pulled out of fixed positions and switched to guerrilla tactics against the weak Western-backed government.
Galkayo straddles the border between the separate self-proclaimed independent regions of Puntland and Galmudug, both of which oppose the Al-Qaeda linked Shabaab, who control Somali regions further south.
“The man argued with the guards before he started shooting at them with a pistol, then after a few minutes he blew himself up,” said Abdukadir Ahmed, a witness.
“There are pieces of human flesh at the front gate of the house, which was damaged by the blast,” he added.
A lack of effective central government since Somalia plunged into civil war two decades ago has allowed a flourishing of militias, Islamist insurgents and pirate gangs ruling mini-fiefdoms.
The Shabaab insurgents control large parts of central and southern Somalia but are facing increasing pressure from government forces and regional armies.
Armies from neighbouring countries are converging on the Shabaab – Kenyan forces in the south, Ethiopia’s army in the south and west, and 10,000 African Union soldiers in Mogadishu from Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti.