At least five people were killed and more than 20 injured Sunday when a blast ripped through a festival marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, police said.
The explosion struck as crowds were singing and dancing at the Eid al-Fitr festival in Baidoa, which is about 150 miles west of the capital Mogadishu, witnesses told Agence France-Presse.
The injured included women and children, according to police, with some fighting for their lives.
“That death toll could increase because some of these people are seriously wounded,” police officer Mohamed Muktar told AFP of the initial tally of five dead.
The cause of the explosion was unclear, police said.
Witness Mohamud Ibrahim believed it was likely “a roadside bomb,” telling AFP by phone, “The blast was huge and it caused casualties more than a grenade may cause.”
Crowds had celebrated all weekend to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr festival, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, witnesses said.
“How can someone shed the blood of innocent civilians when they have been enjoying their Eid festival?” another witness, Abdi Hassan, told the agency.
“These perpetrators, whoever they are, have turned their happiness into sadness.”
Somalia has suffered a series of devastating terrorist attacks, including a suicide bombing in 2017 that left more than 500 people dead.
An Al-Qaeda affiliate, Al-Shabaab, was driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 and lost most of its strongholds, but still controls vast swathes of the countryside, AFP noted.