Twenty-two people, including at least two children, were killed in the explosion of unexploded ordnance in Somalia about 120 kilometers south of the capital Mogadishu, the district deputy commissioner said Friday.
There was a disaster near Qoryooley, innocent children were killed in an explosion caused by mortar shells," the official, Abdi Ahmed Ali, told a news conference. The Deputy Commissioner did not specify where the munitions came from, or when they were placed or landed on site.
Munitions 'scattered throughout the region'
The region is the scene of regular clashes between Somali forces, backed by an African Union (AU) force, and the radical Islamists Shebab, affiliated with Al-Qaeda, who have been fighting the internationally backed federal government since 2007. Abdi Ahmed Ali asked the authorities for help "to remove these unexploded ordnance that are scattered in the region" and "avoid these disasters". A resident of the town, Ibrahim Hassan, contacted by AFP, said that most of the victims were "young children, who died on the spot after one of them hit an explosive device near a playground".
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On 26 May, at least 54 soldiers were killed by al-Shabaab who attacked an African Union (AU) base held by Ugandan soldiers in Bulo Marer, a town about 30 kilometres from Qoryooley. Al-Shabaab has been fighting the internationally backed Somali government for more than fifteen years to establish Islamic law in this Horn of Africa country. Driven out of major cities in 2011-2012, al-Shabaab remains firmly entrenched in large rural areas, from where it continues to carry out attacks against security and civilian targets.