Somalia Suicide Bomb Kills 21 People in Attack on Police Station

At least 21 people died in a suicide attack by suspected al-Shabaab militants on a police station in central Somalia, a police official said.

Seven Somali policemen and four Djiboutian members of an African Union peacekeeping mission, known as Amisom, were killed when a car bomb detonated today at the police station in Beledweyne, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of the capital, Mogadishu, Abdilkadir Osman, a police official, said in a phone interview. Ten suspected al-Shabaab fighters died as they tried to storm the base, Colonel Osman Dubad Sugulle, head of Djiboutian forces in Somalia, said in a separate interview.

“This cowardly attack will not hamper the progress made in central Somalia by the Somali security forces in partnership with Amisom in eliminating the threat posed by al-Shabaab,” Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon said in an e-mailed statement.

In the past two years, government troops backed by about 17,000 African Union troops have pushed the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab militant group out of the capital, Mogadishu, and other major towns. Last week, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution approving an increase of more than 4,000 troops for the African Union mission, logistical support form the UN to the Somali army and the deployment of a UN security unit to protect UN compounds in the country.

Today’s bombing is the latest in a series of attacks that follow the bombing of a hotel in Mogadishu on Nov. 8 and a June strike against a UN compound in Mogadishu.

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