At least 12 civilians were killed Monday in a suicide bombing that targeted African Union troops in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region, an official said Monday.
Abdiqadir Mohamed Nor, the governor of Lower Shabelle, told The Associated Press that the attack happened near the Elasha Biyaha settlement.
Somali police official Hassan Ali said a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden car next to a convoy of African Union forces moving near two minibuses.
He said the death toll may rise, as it remained unclear if there were any casualties among the African Union troops who are in the area to oust militants from their last strongholds.
This is the first serious assault by suspected Islamic extremists since the leader of Somalia’s al Qaeda affiliate was killed in a U.S. airstrike last week.
Somali officials warned over the weekend that there is a probability of attacksfollowing the killing of al Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane by a U.S. airstrike last week.
Gen. Khalif Ahmed Ereg, Somalia’s national security minister, said on Friday likely targets include medical and educational institutions. Ereg said the government is vigilant and prepared its armed forces to prevent such attacks.