Baidoa police officer Abdullahi Ahmed said the blast was caused by a roadside bomb, while witness Nur Yusuf said the bomb was concealed in a thermos placed along the street where he sells vegetables.
“So far, we know sixteen people died and thirty others were injured,” Ahmed said. “The death toll may rise, but it was a cowardly attack targeting civilians we have arrested one suspect after the blast.”
Eyewitness Fadumo Haji said she saw the carnage.
“They killed innocent and poor people,” she said.
The al-Shabab militant group claimed responsibility for the attack. Baidoa was a major base for the group until Ethiopian troops and Somali soldiers seized the key town in February.
“The explosion has targeted Ethiopians and their apostate companions,” the group said in a statement posted on its website.
It continued: “Then they opened fire at the civilians in the market, killing five people on the spot.”
A blast last week in the capital ripped through the national theater, killing 10 people and wounding many more. Among the dead were two top sports officials.