LAS ANOD — Gunmen stormed a mosque in the Somali city of Galkayo Saturday and sprayed gunfire on worshippers, killing at least five and wounding 10, security officials and witnesses said.

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It was not immediately clear who the attackers were but the carnage took place hours after a senior official from the ministry of religious affairs of Puntland was killed in a roadside bomb attack in Galkayo.

The shooting occurred at one of the largest mosques in Galkayo, a city divided by a border between the northern self-proclaimed Puntland state and the rival administration of Galmudug to the south.

“Unidentified militiamen stormed a large mosque in northern Galkayo, leaving at least five worshippers dead. It was a horrific act,” said Mohamed Abdullah, a security official.

“Around 10 others were wounded in the attack,” he told AFP.

The silhouettes of armed men in the semi-desertic plains near the central Somalia town of Galkayo (AFP)

“The police reached the area after the attack and are still investigating the matter.”

Witnesses said the attackers, armed with machineguns, entered the Salahudding mosque from two doors and rained bullets on worshippers who were still in the building after prayers.

“I’ve never seen such a brutal gratuitous act, especially in a place of worship,” Abdirahman Mohamoud, a resident who was near the attack, said.

“The bodies of the faithful were lying in a big pool of blood inside the mosque as local residents rushed the wounded to hospital,” he told AFP.

“These men entered the mosque and opened fire indiscriminately on the people. It’s a carnage, everybody in the city is shocked tonight,” said Yusuf Moaliam, another witness.

In 2009, unidentified masked men stormed a mosque in Galkayo killing five Pakistani preachers after opening fire on them.

Source: AFP | 16 April 2011