At least 15 people were killed and over 20 injured in a suicide bombing claimed by Al Shabaab militants in Somalia's semi autonomous state of Galmudug ahead of Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble's address to a rally.

FILE PHOTO: An ambulance carrying an injured person from an attack by Al Shabaab gunmen on a hotel near the presidential residence arrives to the Shaafi hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia on December 10, 2019.
FILE PHOTO: An ambulance carrying an injured person from an attack by Al Shabaab gunmen on a hotel near the presidential residence arrives to the Shaafi hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia on December 10, 2019. (Reuters Archive)

At least 15 people have been killed in a town in Somalia's semi autonomous state of Galmudug when a suicide bomber detonated a device at a rally due to be addressed by the country's prime minister.

Ali Hassan, a police officer in Galkayo, said others were injured in the blast, which occurred at the entrance to the sports stadium. Some high-ranking members of the Somali army were among those killed in the explosion, according to local reports.

Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble was on his way to address the rally at a stadium in Galkayo, a town in central Somalia where many residents and security forces had gathered to welcome him before the explosion, Galmudug state security ministry said in a post on its Facebook page.

Senior officials at the site included General Abdiasis Abdullahi Qooje who was commander of a battalion based in Galmudug, Somali state radio SONNA reported.

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Al Shabaab claims responsibility

Somalia's al Qaeda-allied group Al Shabaab, claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was "targeting the apostate prime minister who was visiting the town."

Among those killed, Al Shabaab's military operations spokesman, Abdiasis Abu Musab, told Reuters, some were US-trained.

The group has been fighting for more than a decade to topple the Horn of Africa's central government and establish its own rule based on its strict interpretation of sharia law.

Farah Ali, a resident of Galkayo who witnessed the bombing, told Reuters in a phone interview the stadium was packed with a huge crowd before the blast.

"I counted seven dead people including soldiers and civilians and over a dozen injured ," he said. 

READ MORE: Several dead as suicide bomber targets Somalia's Mogadishu

Source: Reuters