MOGADISHU, Somalia — At least 16 people were killed and 20 others wounded when a female suicide bomber blew herself up at a restaurant in Beledwayne, the regional capital of Hiiraan province, police told dpa on Saturday.

The female bomber entered in the restaurant, which is normally frequented by city residents and government soldiers, at lunchtime.

“We have collected bodies of 12 dead people including the bomber herself,” senior regional police officer Hassan Dhi’isow told dpa.

“The attack was carried out by female bomber,” he added.

At least 20 others were wounded in Saturday’s bombing, which was claimed by the Islamist group al-Shabab on its radio station Andalus.

The group said it was targeting government officials and soldiers.

That political situation in that city is tense as the process of choosing some of the lawmakers for the national parliament is about to start in the next few days.

Among the politicians running for the seats from the region is the National Security Adviser Fahad Yasiin, a former intelligence chief and most influential figure in the last five years of the current administration

Hundreds of national armed forces have been deployed to the city to prevent such attacks from happening during that elections there.

The country on the Horn of Africa with around 16 million inhabitants has been rocked by attacks by al-Shabab for years. Al-Shabab controls large parts of the south and central regions. It repeatedly carries out attacks on security forces and civilians.