The death toll from a suicide bombing in Somalia has risen to 16, after a number of people hurt in the blast succumbed to their injuries overnight, security sources told AFP on Saturday.
Initially, six people including three senior military officials were killed Friday when a suicide bomber attacked a stadium in the Somali city of Galkayo, ahead of the planned arrival of the country’s prime minister.
But a local security official told AFP by telephone on Saturday: “The number of people who have died in the blast increased this morning, 16 people, most of them civilians, died, according to the information we have.”
Police official Ahmed Abdiasiz said “the location where the blast occurred was overcrowded… so that many people who sustained serious injuries died later. Apart from the members of the army nearly ten civilians also died in the blast.”
The Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place as a crowd waited for the arrival of Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble.
The stadium is located in the south of Galkayo, the capital of the north-central Mudug region, and 600 kilometres (370 miles) north of Mogadishu.
Galkayo is divided between two self-proclaimed semi-autonomous states — Puntland and Galmudug, which includes Mudug.
On Friday, Galkayo military commander Colonel Ahmed Dahir said the suicide bomber had targeted “senior military officials who stayed close to the entrance of the stadium.”
Al-Shabaab said in a statement that it had targeted the prime minister in the attack, which it claimed had killed the commanders of two local units.
The Al-Qaeda-linked group, which is waging a deadly insurgency in Somalia and regularly targets military and government officials, has previously claimed responsibility for similar attacks in the region.
“My uncle was among the dead, he was one of the military officials who have died in the blast. We are devastated and the whole family is grieving,” said one resident, Dahir Ali.
“He will be buried very soon together with four of his colleagues who have died in the blast.”
Another resident, Mumin Adan, said: “The town is mourning today and there are many dead bodies buried at main cemetery, I have seen more than ten people carried for burial.”
Somalia plunged into chaos after the 1991 overthrow of then-President Siad Barre’s military regime, leading to years of clan warfare followed by the rise of Al-Shabaab, which once controlled large parts of the country and Mogadishu.