NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Somalia was hit by two violent attacks Monday, one killing an Islamic cleric and 17 of his followers for playing music and a second killing at least six people in a car bomb blast in the capital, Mogadishu, police said.
The car bomb was detonated Monday at a busy junction in Mogadishu’s Wadajir district, said Capt. Mohamed Hussein. He said 15 people were injured and the blast appears to have been aimed at soldiers who were gathered at the junction.
In the northern city of Galkayo, a prominent Islamic leader and at least 17 of his followers were killed by extremists for having music in their religious ceremonies, say police.
Two suicide bombers exploded in front of the preacher’s residence, which is also a Sufi shrine, and then four gunmen stormed the building and opened fire, said Ahmed Awale, a police officer in Galkayo. At least 20 others were injured, he said.
Somali security forces responded and there was a battle with heavy gunfire in the building. Three attackers were killed in the shootout and one was captured alive, said Awale.
Somalia’s extremist rebels, al-Shabab, have claimed responsibility for the attack in Galkayo.
The attack killed Sheikh Abdiweli Ali Elmi, who has hundreds of followers and has been controversial because videos show him and his followers chanting religious poems with music, which some extremists say is not Islamic. Sheikh Elmi had defended his actions, saying music is not contrary to Islamic teachings.
The United States mission in Somalia, which is a strong ally of the government, tweeted its condolences.
“The United States stands with those who were victimized by violence in #Somalia today. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. The United States is committed to working with Somalia for peace and stability.”