Somalia roadside bomb kills at least 20 in 'national disaster'
A roadside bomb has killed at least 20 people in a minibus in Somalia's Lower Shabelle region, the local governor said, blaming the extremist group al Shabab.
Most of the victims were women, Ibrahim Aden Ali said, calling the blast a "national disaster".
Six other people were injured, regional security official Nur Abdullahi said.
The bomb, buried beside the road, struck the vehicle near Golweyn village and largely destroyed it, Mr Abdullahi said.
"It's a horrible incident. Bodies are lying in a pool of blood, and some of them were burnt beyond recognition," he said.
Isaq Haji, a nurse at a hospital in Marka town, 55 miles south of the capital, Mogadishu, said they had received four victims with "horrific" wounds.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Al Shabab claims control over parts of the largely coastal Lower Shabelle region, which has been a focus of efforts to counter the group by a 22,000-strong multinational African Union force.
Earlier, Somalia's new president declared the country a war zone and replaced its military and intelligence chiefs while instructing the army to prepare a new offensive against al Shabab.
The shake-up is an attempt to improve the worsening security situation as the al Qaida-linked group steps up bombings in Mogadishu since President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed was elected in February.
A car bomb blast on Wednesday at a restaurant killed at least seven people.
The Somali-American president wore a military uniform as he declared the new offensive and offered young extremists a chance to surrender.
"We tell the young, brainwashed al Shabab fighters that they have a 60-day deadline to lay down the arms which they use to kill their people and come to us," Mr Mohamed said. "We shall welcome them with open arms."
He said the government will focus on the security of the capital first, then the rest of the country.
The changes come roughly a week after the Trump administration approved greater US military authority to pursue al Shabab in Somalia, including more aggressive air strikes as parts of southern Somalia will be considered areas of active hostilities.