A policeman walks at the scene of an explosion near the entrance of the airport in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.
MOGADISHU: At least six people were killed yesterday in a suicide car bomb attack targeting a United Nations convoy close to Mogadishu’s heavily-fortified international airport, officials said.
Somalia’s Al Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels, who are fighting to overthrow the country’s internationally-backed government, said one of their suicide bombers carried out the attack.
The bomb went off near a checkpoint at the entrance to the airport complex, which also houses the base of AMISOM — the African Union force fighting Shebab rebels — as well as a number of foreign diplomatic missions and UN offices.
A statement from UNSOM, the UN mission in Somalia, said the bomb went off near a convoy of UN vehicles shortly after midday.
“A UN car was damaged but no UN staff were injured. Four Somali security escorts were lightly injured,” UNSOM said, expressing “deep sorrow at the reported deaths and injuries of Somali bystanders.”
Police and witnesses said the victims included Somali guards, passers-by and shop owners.
“At least six people, most of them civilians, died in the car bomb explosion. There are many casualties, serious injuries. We are still investigating the incident, the toll could rise,” a Somali police official said.
A Shebab spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack.
“This was an operation carried out by Shebab. It was a brother who took a sacrificial act to defend the people of Somalia,” Shebab military spokesman Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Musab said.
The airport is considered among the safest parts of Mogadishu, and is ringed by checkpoints and large numbers of armed guards.
A number of foreign diplomatic missions are based inside the huge airport complex, which has also been used to house a number of UN staff since a city-centre UN compound was attacked by the Shebab last year.