Suicide bombers kill 13 in Somali capital

Attack at the gates of African Union's main peacekeeping base in Mogadishu claimed by al Shabab militant group.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A policeman talks on his mobile as he rests on the wreckage of a car destroyed during a suicide bombing near the African Union's main peacekeeping base in Mogadishu, Somalia. July 26, 2016

Suicide bombers killed at least 13 people at the gates of the African Union's main peacekeeping base in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Tuesday, police said. The attack was later claimed by a militant group.

Police said the first attacker detonated a car bomb and the second tried to storm the base on foot, but was shot and exploded at the gate.

"At least 13 people – mostly security forces – died in the two bomb blasts," and 12 others were wounded, Abdiqadir Omar, a police officer told Reuters.

The guards were caught in the blast as they escorted UN personnel into the base, which is known as Halane, he added.

"AU forces sealed the area. There were many Somalis outside the gate and there were AU forces at the gate," police officer Major Nur Osman told Reuters.

The force of the explosions shattered windows at the nearby airport, showered arriving passengers with glass and forced the suspension of flights, police and witnesses said.

"We were greeted by two loud blasts. The glass of the airport building fell on us," said Ali Nur, who had just got off a plane from Nairobi.

Al Shabab, a militant group linked to al Qaeda and fighting to topple Somalia's Western-backed government, said it set off two car bombs.

Kenyan police officers hold their position as residents watch during an operation against a suspected recruiter for the Somali militant group al Shabab at the Kapenguria police station in Kapenguria, western Kenya. July 14, 2016.

The African Union's AMISOM force said on Twitter it condemned the "senseless attacks that aim to disrupt and cripple the lives of ordinary Somalis". There was no immediate comment from the United Nations.

Al Shabab regularly attacks AMISOM, a peacekeeping mission which is made up of about 22,000 military personnel from Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and other African countries helping to support Somalia's government and army.

The city's airport is heavily fortified and adjoins the capital's main base for the African Union mission to Somalia.

The country in the Horn of Africa was plunged into anarchy in the early 1990s following the toppling of military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

Most of the militants were chased out of Mogadishu in 2011 but remain a serious threat in both Somalia and neighbouring Kenya, where they carry out frequent attacks.

TRTWorld and agencies