Heavy casualties have been reported after a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest at Mogadishu’s Jaalle Siyaad Military Academy early Monday, sources said.
The bomber targeted military personnel as they lined up after breakfast.
A military officer who asked not to be identified as he was not authorized to speak publicly to the media, told VOA that at least 20 soldiers were killed and dozens of others were injured in the attack. Some of the wounded sustained life-threatening injuries, he said.
The al-Shabab militant group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. In a statement via Telegram Messenger, the group claimed that one of its suicide bombers targeted the troops. Al-Shabab claimed the explosion killed 73 soldiers and injured 124 others, a figure that has not been independently verified.
The bomber was wearing a military uniform, according to the officer.
It is not clear how the bomber managed to enter one of the most secure military bases in the capital.
Many of the soldiers belong to the 14th October Brigade, created in commemoration for the victims of the single deadliest terrorist attack in Africa at Mogadishu’s Zobe junction, which killed nearly 600 people on October 14, 2017.
Somali troops and local fighters have been conducting operations against al-Shabab since August last year. The Somali government vowed to continue the operation into a second phase to further remove the group from more territories in the countryside.
The militant group has been carrying out retaliatory attacks against government as well as civilian sites.