Twenty-two killed in ordnance blast in Somalia

Twenty-two people, including two children, died in southern Somalia when mortar shells exploded, a local district official said on Friday.

Abdi Ahmed Ali told a press conference that a blast “caused by unexploded mortar shells” occurred near the town of Qoryoley, around 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of the capital, Mogadishu.

He requested help from the authorities to clear unexploded ordnance he said was scattered across the region in order to avoid further disasters.

Qoryoley resident Ibrahim Hassan told AFP most of the victims were “young children” who “died on the spot after one of them struck an explosive device near a playground.”

The region is a target of al-Shabaab group, which has waged an insurgency against the internationally backed Somali federal government since 2007.

Last month, the group affiliated with al-Qaeda killed 54 Ugandan peacekeepers in an attack on an African Union base in Bulo Marer, a town around 30 kilometers from Qoryoley.

The movement has been driven out of Somalia’s main towns and cities but retains power in large swathes of rural areas, carrying out attacks against security and civilian targets.

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