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'Shebab mortar fire' kills two in Somalia

AFP , Saturday 2 Jul 2016
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Two people were killed and 18 were wounded early Saturday in the southwestern Somali town of Baidoa in a mortar attack by suspected Shebab militants, a senior official said.

"Shebab militants fired mortar shells late last night, striking different neighbourhoods in Baidoa," the governor of Bay region, Abdirashid Abdullahi, told AFP.

"The casualty number reached about 20, two of them died and eighteen others were hospitalized, five of them with minor injuries."

There was no immediate claim of responsibility from the Shebab, an Al Qaeda-affiliated group blamed for a string of bloody attacks in Somalia and neighbouring Kenya.

Witnesses told AFP that most of the shells landed in civilian areas close to Baidoa's airport, where the biggest Ethiopian base in the AMISOM mission is located.

AMISOM -- the African Union Mission in Somalia -- is tasked with shoring up Somalia's internationally-backed but fragile government.

"There were several blasts near the airport but most of them landed (on) houses occupied by civilians, several people died and others wounded", Musdhaf sheik Mumin, a resident said.

The Shebab were forced out of the capital, Mogadishu, five years ago but continue to carry out regular attacks on military, government and civilian targets in their battle to overthrow the internationally-backed administration.

This year is considered critical for the group, which is eager to disrupt an expected change of government leadership due in the coming months.

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