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Suicide bomber attacks market in Somalia as Kerry visits region

Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting Kenya on Monday to discuss regional security, a day after a suicide bombing at a market in Somalia killed at least 20 people.

A truck carrying explosives detonated near a government building in the central Somali town of Galkayo, followed by a car bomb. The dual explosions shattered buildings, and killed and injured dozens of people at a nearby market.

The Islamic militant group al-Shabab, which is trying to overthrow the Somali government, claimed responsibility for the attack. The incident occurred after Somali security forces captured an al-Shabab commander in Galkayo, reported Al Jazeera.

The U.S. also is conducting airstrikes targeting al-Shabab militants.

“The Somali people continue to bear the brunt of the trauma and destabilization resulting from al-Shabab’s vicious and persistent attacks,” said Mark Toner, deputy State Department spokesman, in a statement.

UNSOM, the U.N. mission in Somalia, said via Twitter that the assault will not derail Somali parliamentary elections in September and the presidential election in October:

Kerry’s visit also comes during continued political strife in South Sudan, which is causing destabilization and violence in the world’s newest country. Kerry announced almost $138 million in additional aid to the troubled nation. The funding, which will be administered through the U.S. Agency for International Development, includes money for food, nutritional supplements, clean water supplies and cholera treatments.

He also urged the deployment of a protection force to South Sudan that the United Nations approved this month. He differentiated between a protection and intervention force in an interview Monday with Eye Radio in Nairobi.

“It is not an intervention force that is somehow challenging the sovereignty of the country. It is – provides stability and protection against some of the things that made it very difficult for even government people, foreigners, others, embassy personnel, to be able to move around the city of Juba during the conflict,” Kerry said.

Photographer Sebastian Rich captured scenes of malnutrition in South Sudan on Friday’s PBS NewsHour.

On Tuesday, Kerry travels to Nigeria, where he will meet with President Muhammadu Buhari about the country’s efforts to address corruption and fight Boko Haram militants.

Kerry then moves on to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the conflict in Yemen, where Saudi-led forces are trying to defeat Shiite Houthi rebels.

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