BAIDOA, Somalia, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Terrorist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility Sunday for two bombings that killed more than 20 people in the Somali town of Baidoa.
Voice of America quoted officials saying a car bomb detonated on a crowded street near a hotel, followed by a suicide bombing inside a busy restaurant. At least 38 people were injured and 21 confirmed dead -- including Nur Malaq, Deputy Minister for Disarmament for the Southwest Regional Administration.
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for a similar attack that killed at least 25 people in Mogadishu on Friday.
Earlier this month, the group also killed Somalia's former defense minister, who was acting as an adviser to parliament, in a targeted car bombing in the capital.
The bombings in Baidoa coincided with a call by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and his African Union allies to resume offensive military operations against al-Shabab.
"We need to reverse the situation now, restore our confidence and morale and retake the initiative back from the terrorists," VOA quoted Mohamud as saying Sunday during an A.U. summit in Djibouti.
Al-Shabab is an al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist group that has for nearly a decade conducted a series of attacks in Somalia, its country of origin, and neighboring Kenya. It controlled much of southern Somalia as recently as 2010 but was pushed out of its urban strongholds by Somali and A.U. forces.
Earlier this month, Kenyan troops, deployed to Somalia as part of an A.U. force since 2011, withdrew from two military bases in southern Somalia's Gedo region after taking heavy casualties in an al-Shabab attack in the town of el-Adde.
President Mohamud said Thursday between 180 and 200 Kenyan soldiers had been killed in the encounter, but Kenyan army spokesman David Obonyo disputed those numbers.
VOA quoted Francisco Caetano Madeira, head of the A.U. Mission in Somalia, saying the Kenyan troop withdrawal was a phase of "readjustments and repositioning to attain a tactical advantage."