At least 10 people including local government officials died in a suspected suicide bombing at a restaurant in the central Somalia town of Beledweyne on Saturday, police and witnesses said.
Two deputy district commissioners were among the dead, while 16 civilians were also wounded, local police officer Mohamud Hassan told AFP by phone.
“This was the deadliest attack I can recall in this town,” he added.
Somalia, particularly the capital Mogadishu, has seen a spate of attacks in recent weeks as the country limps through a political crisis caused by long-running disagreements over delayed polls.
Security had been tightened in Beledweyne, which lies 340 kilometres (210 miles) north of the capital, in preparation for voting for lower house seats.
Witnesses said the huge blast tore through an open area of the Hassan Dhiif restaurant where people had gathered under trees to eat lunch and enjoy the breeze.
Witness Mahad Osman said he saw several dead bodies, while wounded victims were rushed to hospital.
“Some of these people were waiting for their ordered meals to come while enjoying the fresh weather when the blast occurred,” he said.
“I saw… shoes, sticks and hats strewn at the scene of the blast, there was also blood and severed parts of human flesh in the area.”