Al-Shabaab suicide bomber and gunmen on Monday stormed a religious centre in Galkayo town of central Somalia, killing at least 20 people.
According to witnesses, the group struck the centre with a car laden with explosives, opening a way for several heavily armed men prompting brief gunfight between the guards of the centre and the assailants.
Police officials who spoke to the news agencies said attackers killed 20 people including the controversial cleric of the centre named Sheikh Abdiweli Sheikh Elmi Yare.
Abdirashid Hashi, the governor of Mudug region who spoke to media has also confirmed the death of the cleric and several other people in the centre.
“We can confirm that they killed Sheikh Abdiweli Sheikh Elmi Yare and several of his followers. We do not have an exact number of the killed in the centre,” the governor said.
Other victims killed in the dawn attack 17 followers of Sheikh Abdiweli including women and teenagers.
Al-Shabaab claimed the responsibility of the attack saying their fighters overran the centre.
The group said last year the cleric had referred to himself as the Prophet, an accusation denied by Abdiweli at that time.
A spokesman for Al-Shabaab, Abdiasis Abu Musab, said that “a car bomb rammed into the centre of the man who insulted the prophet.
“A car bomb rammed into the centre of the man who insulted the prophet. Our militants are now inside and fighting goes on,” Abu Musab told Reuters.