U.S. Official: Somalia Homicide Bombings Facilitated by Al Qaeda

The series of homicide bombings in somalia Wednesday "were probably the work of a local group that was likely facilitated by Al Qaeda," a U.S. intelligence official told FOX News Thursday.

The official described the attacks as a fairly sophisticated and complex event which has all the attributes of an Al Qaeda attack. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks yet.

The wave of homicide bombings killed more than 20 people in northern Somalia, striking just as international leaders held talks on ending decades of deadly turmoil in this chaotic African nation.

The five seemingly coordinated attacks targeted a U.N. compound, the Ethiopian consulate and the presidential palace in Somaliland's capital, Hargeisa. All occurred in the breakaway republic of Somaliland and in Somalia's Puntland region — both of which have largely been spared the deadly violence seen in the country's south.

"It was a horrendous scene," said Ismail Mohamed, a 22-year-old Hargeisa resident who saw bloodied victims screaming and begging for help after the blast at the palace. "It is a woeful day."

"(They) certainly bear some of the markings of an Al Qaeda attack," said Jendayi Frazer, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs. She spoke in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, where the international talks on Somalia were being held.

In the past Islamist rebels with alleged ties to Al Qaeda have launched such strikes to coincide with international efforts to end the turmoil in this impoverished Horn of Africa nation.

Somaliland President Dahir Riyale Kahin's secretary died in the blast at the palace, but the president was not hurt, Adani said. Kahin said in a radio broadcast it was too early to tell who was behind the attacks.

Homicide bombers also attacked two intelligence facilities in the northern port city of Bossaso in Puntland. The two bombers and a security official died in the attack, said Muse Gelle Yusuf, the governor in Bossaso.

Somalia has been without a functioning government since 1991, when clan warlords ousted longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on each other. The current government was formed in 2004 with the help of the United Nations, but has failed to protect citizens from violence or the country's poverty.

Islamic militants have waged an Iraq-style insurgency against Somali government troops and their Ethiopian allies for almost two years. The nearly daily mortar attacks and gunbattles have killed thousands of Somali civilians in the capital, deaths that all sides blame on each other.

Somalia's north has tried to sever ties with the chaotic south, which includes the beleaguered capital, Mogadishu. Puntland has a semiautonomous administration, and Somaliland has long sought international recognition as being its own nation, separate from Somalia.

FOXNews' Catherine Herridge and The Associated Press contributed to this report.