Skip to main content

Al-Shabaab attack on Somali police station kills at least 12

By Omar Nor and Jason Hanna, CNN
November 19, 2013 -- Updated 2044 GMT (0444 HKT)
Somalia's al-Shabaab launched the attack in Beledweyne.
Somalia's al-Shabaab launched the attack in Beledweyne.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Islamist group Al-Shabaab claims responsibility
  • Car bomb explodes at gate of police station in Beledweyne, Somalia
  • Al-Shabaab fighters then enter compound, exchange fire with police and AU troops
  • Six Somali policemen and four Djiboutian peacekeepers among the dead, police say

Mogadishu, Somalia (CNN) -- Al-Shabaab militants killed at least 12 people Tuesday in a car bombing and assault on a police station shared by African Union peacekeepers in a key Somali commercial hub, authorities said.

At least four of the Islamist attackers also were killed as Somali police and AU troops responded to the assault on the police station in Beledweyne, about 200 miles north of the Somali capital of Mogadishu, said Abdi Farah Laqanyo, governor of the Hiran region.

The attack is the latest on Somali and AU forces by Al-Shabaab, a group that is fighting the government in hopes of turning Somalia into a fundamentalist Islamic state.

A car packed with explosives was driven into the station's gate and burst "into a huge ball of flames" about 11 a.m., Laqanyo said.

Attackers then entered the police compound and exchanged fire with police and AU forces, authorities said. The station is a base for Djiboutian troops serving as peacekeepers for the African Union Mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, which supports Somali forces in cracking down on Al-Shabaab.

The attack killed at least 10 defenders -- six Somali policemen and four Djiboutian soldiers with AMISOM -- said Col. Abdilkadir Osman, a police officer in the town. Two civilians also were killed, authorities said.

A spokesman for Al-Shabaab's military operations, Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu Musab, said the group carried out the attack. Abu Musab claimed the attack killed 18 AMISOM troops and 23 Somali forces, though CNN could not independently verify that count.

A witness who was 200 meters from the site said the attackers used assault rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades after the car bombing. The witness, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a plume of black smoke rose from the police station.

Tuesday's fighting comes less than a month after a suicide attack claimed by Al-Shabaab killed 16 people at a cafe in Beledweyne.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said Tuesday he was sending condolences to the victims of what he said was a "stupid attack."

"I say this was a stupid attack because our enemies need to understand that these attacks do nothing to advance their cause, however misguided," Mohamud said. "We are making great progress while our enemies are on the back foot and reduced to sporadic and self-defeating attacks with no regard to life."

Beledweyne is the capital of the Hiran region. Situated near the Ethiopian border, it is a commercial hub linking southern and northern Somalia.

Though Al-Shabaab is fighting the Somali government, it has launched attacks in other countries as well, and it has a relationship with al Qaeda that goes back several years. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for September's four-day siege at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, where at dozens of people were killed.

The U.S. government designated Al-Shabaab as a foreign terrorist organization in March 2008.

Journalist Omar Nor reported from Mogadishu. CNN's Jason Hanna wrote from Atlanta. CNN's Nana Karikari-apau contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 0317 GMT (1117 HKT)
The beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley by ISIS militants brings into focus the risks faced by reporters in conflict zones.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 0433 GMT (1233 HKT)
About $35,000 was taken from the bank accounts of four passengers on board Flight 370.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1357 GMT (2157 HKT)
Five survivors of acid attacks capture India's attention with a "ground breaking" photo shoot.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1732 GMT (0132 HKT)
The execution of a journalist by a British-accented jihadist is a direct challenge to the international community. It's time for the U.S. to move, writes Frida Ghitis.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1219 GMT (2019 HKT)
In an exclusive CNN interview, Lance Armstrong admits to having a "f**k you" attitude.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
Summer isn't over yet. These new hotels are keeping it alive and fresh.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1535 GMT (2335 HKT)
You've seen her turn on the catwalk, but her income might make your head spin.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 0036 GMT (0836 HKT)
The pain that Michael Brown's parents are going through is something Sybrina Fulton can relate to. She, too, lost a son in a controversial shooting.
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0904 GMT (1704 HKT)
19-year-old Udi Segal explains why he won't join the country's military.
Drinkers guzzled an incredible 10.3 billion liters of this brand in 2013, making it the world's No.1 beer. And you may have never heard of it.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT