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Suicide bomber strikes while hugging official in Somalia’s Puntland

Archived photo: The Islamist militant group al Shabaab took responsibility for the attack

An Islamist militant suicide bomber put his arms around a local official as if in a hug and blew both of them up in the autonomous Somali region of Puntland on Thursday, officials said.

The Islamist militant group al Shabaab, which frequently targets officials in its bid to overthrow the Western-backed Somali government, issued a statement taking responsibility for the attack.

“We killed Saeed Ali, the treasurer of Galkayo, and several police officers that were guarding him,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operation spokesman, told Reuters.

Major Nur Ahmed, a police officer, told Reuters that Saeed Ali and the guards had been targeted as they attempted to enter a car.

Witnesses said that two bystanders also died in the blast, but officials could not immediately confirm that.

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