MOGADISHU (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed three Somali lawmakers on Tuesday at a hotel in the central town of Dusamareb, where legislators visiting from the capital were meeting, local authorities said.
Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels claimed responsibility for the attack, and also for a car bomb in the heart of the capital Mogadishu on Tuesday that killed one man.
While suicide bombers sent by al Shabaab militants have struck government targets and African Union troops in the capital Mogadishu often in recent years, such attacks are rare in central Galgadud region.
The delegation of lawmakers was in Dusamareb to discuss how to form local administrations in the central region of Galgadud, as part of political reforms meant to bring a string of transition governments to an end with elections in August.
Member of parliament Dahir Amin Gesow told Reuters he was in the hotel cafe when the bomber walked in blew himself up. He said several people were killed, including some lawmakers.
The spokesman for the pro-government militia which controls Dusamareb, the capital of Galgadud, said the total death toll from the blast was four.
“The bomber killed four people, including three legislators and one of our soldiers,” Sheikh Abdullahi Sheikh Abu Yusuf, spokesman for the Sufi militia Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca, told Reuters.
Dusamareb, 560 km (350 miles) north of Mogadishu, has been under the control of the Ahlu Sunna militia group for years, although al Shabaab fighters have seized the town briefly on several occasions, including in March this year.
Al Shabaab’s spokesman for military operations, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, told Reuters one of their bombers was behind the attack and that Ahlu Sunna officials, Ethiopian officials and legislators had been killed.
Ethiopia has long backed Ahlu Sunna in its fight against al Shabaab, providing training and weapons. Ethiopian also sent its own troops into Somalia last year to take on the Islamist rebels, mainly to areas where Ahlu Sunna has a presence.
In Mogadishu, a bomb planted inside a car killed a man near the busy Kilometer 4 junction. Al Shabaab said it had killed him because he worked for the government.
Additional reporting by Omar Faruk and Feisal Oman in Mogadishu and Abdi Sheikh in Nariobi; Editing by David Clarke