Mogadishu: At least 15 people died on Saturday in a suicide attack in a restaurant in the central Somali town of Beledweyne claimed by the Shebab, a local police chief said.
"The death toll we have so far is 15 and the injured are more than that number," Isaq Ali Abdi, police chief of the Hiraan region, sad.
Witnesses said earlier they had counted 12 bodies after the blast.
"It was horrible, I counted 12 people killed -- among them soldiers -- and many others were injured," Mohamed Islow Ali, a witness, said by telephone.
"There were a lot of people in the restaurant when the bomber blew himself up, many people have died including civilians," said Hussein Ali, another witness.
"The attack was carried out by one of the mujahedeen. Thanks to Allah, he has killed many of the enemy including Ethiopian soldiers and Djiboutians," Sheikh Mohamed, a Shebab commander in the nearby town of Bulaburde, said.
The attack targeted a restaurant said to be popular with the military. Ethiopian soldiers, as well as Djiboutians from an African Union force and Somali soldiers are all stationed in Beledweyne.
Men from all three forces had gathered there to drink tea when the attacker struck, local people said.
"Some people were killed while drinking tea and others as they were walking past. It was an incident that terrorised the town`s inhabitants," said Ahmed Mohamud, another resident.
Somalia`s president and prime minister both condemned the attack.
"This cowardly act was perpetrated by the violent elements who have no basis in Islamic ideology," President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said.
"This proves that the Shebab opted solely for extremism after losing in battle," he said in a statement.
"I am deeply saddened by the death of innocent people in Beledweyne," Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon said for his part.
"Terrorists defeat only themselves when they commit these atrocities. They long ago lost all popular support as Somalis have discovered for themselves how poisonous the ideology of extremism is," he said.