Washington, Oct 31 : A US intelligence official has said that the series of homicide bombings in Somalia on Wednesday "were probably the work of a local group that was likely facilitated by al Qaeda."
The official described the attacks as a fairly sophisticated and complex event, which has all the attributes of an al Qaeda attack. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks yet.
The wave of homicide bombings killed more than 20 people in northern Somalia, striking just as international leaders held talks on ending decades of deadly turmoil in this chaotic African nation.
The five seemingly coordinated attacks targeted a UN compound, the Ethiopian consulate and the presidential palace in Somaliland's capital, Hargeisa.
All the attacks occurred in the breakaway republic of Somaliland and in Somalia's Puntland region - both of which have largely been spared the deadly violence seen in the country's south.
"It was a horrendous scene," FOX News quoted Ismail Mohamed, as saying.
"(They) certainly bear some of the markings of an al Qaeda attack," said Jendayi Frazer, the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. She spoke in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, where the international talks on Somalia were being held.
In the past Islamist rebels with alleged ties to al Qaeda have launched such strikes to coincide with international efforts to end the turmoil in this impoverished Horn of Africa nation.
Somalia has been without a functioning government since 1991, when clan warlords ousted longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on each other. The current government was formed in 2004 with the help of the United Nations, but has failed to protect citizens from violence or the country's poverty.
Islamic militants have waged an Iraq-style insurgency against Somali government troops and their Ethiopian allies for almost two years.