Al-Shabab, a Somalia-based Islamic insurgent group, has claimed responsibility for the twin bombing attacks that killed at least 21 people and wounded as many as 80 in Puntland on Wednesday. Local officials arrested four suspects on Thursday. The group is believed to have links with the Al-Qaeda terrorist network and trains young Somalis to fight against the internationally backed Somali Transitional Government and its allied Ethiopian forces.
The two explosions rocked the relatively peaceful Puntland region that declared itself semi-autonomous in 1998. The region’s administration stepped up security in the hunt for the perpetrators of the attack.
Puntland Vice-President Hassan Dahir Mahmoud told VOA that two of the suspects are Somali citizens and the other two come from the Somali speaking region of Ethiopia. He said terrorists who want Puntland to plunge to chaos are behind these attacks. “The bombs were homemade,” he confirmed. “The explosions were claimed by some jihadists called Shabab who operate in Somalia and they have got some links with Al-Qaeda and other terrorists.”
The attack was carried out a day after Puntland President Adde Muse Hersi traveled to Ethiopia leading a high-profile delegation to strengthen political and economic relations with Addis Ababa. Victims of the attack insist it is not a coincidence that the attack occurred while the president was in Ethiopia. Vice-President Mahmoud supports these claims. “It has got something to do with our relations with Ethiopia. It is possible that they targeted the explosion after his (president Hersi’s ) departure because they want to spark a misunderstanding between us and the Ethiopian government. But the Ethiopian government is well aware of these jihadists in Somalia and they (insurgents) won’t gain anything.”
Two more people died in the past 24 hours increasing the death toll to 21. Fifty-nine wounded victims were admitted to Bandar Quasin General Hospital in Bosasso, according to the hospital’s general manager. “After the explosions we received 79 patients. Fifteen of them were dead on the spot,” Mwase said. “We operated on 11 patients of which three died on the operating table. We also lost two more people while waiting for surgery.”
The hospital staff of seven doctors worked non-stop following the attacks. “We operated on three surgical wards. Many of the victims were in critical condition and most of them were having amputations. These procedures took an hour, an hour-and-a-half each, so that’s why we lost two people in the process.” Mwase says the International Red Cross has provided the hospital with equipments and drugs, so the treatment the patients receive is expected to improve in the coming days.