MOGADISHU, Sept. 23 (Xinhua) -- At least 20 people, most of them civilians, were killed in a suicide car bomb attack on Saturday at a checkpoint in Beledweyne town in central Somalia, local officials said.
The explosion occurred near a market and two petrol stations, causing massive destruction, said Beledweyne District Commissioner Omar Alasow. He added that security forces and medical teams are on the ground to support the victims of the suicide bomb attack.
"We are still gathering details related to the terrorist attack. The casualties are significant, and we are transporting the victims to local hospitals. If they cannot treat the serious casualties, we will try to airlift them to Mogadishu for further treatment," Alasow told local reporters.
"It is a very shocking and disturbing terrorist attack. Houses and business centers were destroyed, and residents inside those houses are still missing. Some dead bodies have been recovered. The blast was like an earthquake," Abdi Hussein, an elder who was at the scene, told Xinhua by phone.
Local sources told Xinhua that the death toll could rise to 30, as several people who were wounded are in critical condition.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the al-Shabab extremist group usually stages such attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere across Somalia. ■