At least six people have been killed and many others injured in a bomb explosion on board a bus carrying UN employees in northern Somalia, officials said.
Colonel Ali Salad, a senior police officer in the semi-autonomous Puntland region, said the dead in the blast in the regional capital, Garowe, included both foreigners and Somalis.
“It’s a dark day, but terrorists must know that the blood they shed will not go in vain. We shall deal with them with an iron hand,” he said.
The UN representative to Somalia, Nicholas Kay, condemned the attack in a Twitter post, saying he was “shocked and appalled by loss of life”.
The al Qaida-linked al-Shabab group has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the group’s Andalus radio.
The bomb was apparently planted under a seat and was detonated by remote control, said police official Yusuf Ali.
Garowe resident Jama Hashi said he heard a thundering blast inside the bus, which he said was passing near the offices of the UN’s food agency when the bomb went off. Human limbs were scattered around the scene of the attack, he said.
Security forces sealed off the area as ambulances carried the wounded from the scene of the blast.
Bomb attacks are not common in the northern parts of Somalia, unlike in the south where al-Shabab militants are waging a deadly war against the Somali government and the African Union forces bolstering it.
Last week at least 10 people were killed in an assault on the offices of Somalia’s education ministry.
Despite losing a lot of ground in recent times and losing top leaders in air strikes, al-Shabab militants are still able to launch attacks in different parts of Somalia and even across the border, especially in Kenya.
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for an attack earlier this month at a university campus in north-eastern Kenya in which militants killed 148 people, most of them students.