Al-Shabaab fighters stormed a provincial capital in Somalia before dawn on Monday, exchanging fire with security forces and reportedly leaving at least 20 dead (including the targeted ‘cleric’), Garowe Online reports.
The attack began with a powerful suicide car bomb detonated at the gate of a Sufi Islamic Shrine run by a controversial Somali Cleric, Abdiweli Ali Elmi and then attackers stormed the building in southern Galkayo.
The Police in the central city said at least 17 of Elmi’s followers, women and children were killed in the early morning’s assault claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab through a statement on its affiliated websites.
Three attackers were killed and one captured alive by the security forces during a heavy gunfight in the shrine with the militants and secured the building, which used to host hundreds of the slain cleric’s followers.
The bodies of 20 people, including the Islamic leader thought to have been shot dead by the Al-Shabaab militants were found in the building while dozens with a variety of wounds taken to the hospital, said police.
The extremist group said Al Shabaab it targeted the cleric after he had alluded to himself as a “prophet” last year and his death was a punishment for a blasphemy, an accusation that rebuffed by Elmi before the attack.
Al-Shabaab has been relentless in attacking security personnel across the long-chaotic Horn of Africa country; its attacks are not relegated to one area or region.
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