Twelve members of Somalia’s security forces were killed, and two others wounded on Sunday following a powerful roadside explosion in the central state of Galmudug, officials said.
The attack occurred near the village of El Dhere, 28 kilometers west of Dhusamareb town, during a security operation, officials said. Dhusamareb is about 510 kilometers north of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
The chief of the intelligence agency in the town of Dhusamareb, Major Abdirashid Abdinur Qoje, was among those killed, the state’s information minister, Ahmed Shire Falagle, confirmed to VOA Somali.
“A vehicle carrying the officer, Qoje, and other soldiers accompanying him were hit by a landmine; the officer and some of the soldiers died, so it was a bomb,” Falagle said.
The al-Shabab militant group claimed responsibility. The attack marked the second confrontation between al-Shabab and Somali government forces outside Dhusamareb in the space of three days. On Friday, seven militants were killed by government forces after mortars were fired into the town as political leaders held a meeting on election management.
The meeting in Dhusamareb collapsed in the early hours of Saturday after President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble failed to reach a deal on election management with the leaders of five federal member states.
The lack of agreement plunges the country into political uncertainty as the president’s term ends on Monday, February 8.
The United States withdrew almost all of its troops from Somalia last month following an order from then-President Donald Trump. Despite the withdrawal, the U.S. military has continued conducting airstrikes against al-Shabab. This year so far, the U.S. has carried out six airstrikes, but none since President Joe Biden came to power on January 20.