Update: At least 7 dead in suicide bombing in Somalia’s Baidoa

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Lawadaag Asxaabta...

A suicide bomber detonated in the middle of a restaurant in the Somali town of Baidoa, leaving at least seven people dead, police said Saturday.
At least nine people were wounded in a second blast when a grenade struck a Baidoa hotel, Col. Ahmed Muse told The Associated Press.

Baidoa is a key economic center about 250 kilometers (155 miles) west of the capital, Mogadishu, and about the same distance east of the Ethiopian border.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts. The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group, which controlled Baidoa between 2009 and 2012 before being driven out by Ethiopian-backed government forces, still holds parts of southern and central Somalia.

The blasts came a day before Somalia marks the first anniversary of the deadliest attack in its history, a truck bombing that killed more than 500 people in Mogadishu.

Attention in recent days has turned to Baidoa, the interim capital of South West state, as high-level al-Shabab defector Mukhtar Robow seeks the regional presidency.

Robow is the highest-ranking official to have ever quit al-Shabab, surrendering to the Somali government last year after the United States cancelled a $5 million reward offered for his capture.

Somalia’s government earlier this month said Robow was not eligible to run for the regional post because he is still under U.S. sanctions that were imposed against him in 2008 when he was identified as a “specially designated global terrorist.”

Robow is among several candidates challenging former Somali parliament speaker and incumbent regional president Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden. The election is Nov. 17.

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