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Terror attack on UAE aid convoy kills 6 in Somalia; diplomats safe

Terror attack on UAE aid convoy kills 6 in Somalia; diplomats safe

Gargash condemns suicide blast by Shabaab militants, regrets loss of Somali lives.

By (AFP, Wam)

Published: Fri 26 Jun 2015, 1:30 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:09 PM

Soldiers patrol around the wreckage of a suicide car bomber that smashed into pickup  truck carrying security officers in Mogadishu. -AFP

Mogadishu - Somalia’s Al Shabaab insurgents killed at least six people on Wednesday in a suicide attack on a UAE relief convoy in the Somali capital Mogadishu, police and the Islamists said.

“We have confirmed the death of six people, four of them civilians, while six others were also wounded, some seriously,” police officer Abdukadir Hassan said.

He said no UAE official was hurt in the attack, with the Somali security staff escorting them stopping the bomber with their truck as the blast went off. Another Somali police officer said nine people were killed in the attack.

UAE Ambassador to Somalia Mohammed Ahmed Al Hammadi said the mission is in contact with the health authorities in the UAE to airlift those wounded to the UAE for treatment.

The Shabaab said they carried out the attack, which is believed to be the first time the Al Qaeda affiliate has targeted the UAE in Somalia. The UAE is involved in a number of security, infrastructure, development and humanitarian projects in Somalia.

“The mujahedeen fighters... carried out a successful attack,” said a Shabaab statement posted on an extremist website.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash condemned the terrorist act. The minister regretted the death of Somali people in the blast and offered deepest condolences to their families and wished speedy recovery to the wounded.

“We are following the situation and investigations into to the incident,” Dr Gargash said, stressing that the terrorist act will not deter the UAE from its commitment to support Somalia and its brotherly people in addressing the threat of terrorism.

He said that we will continue to work hard to support the security, stability and development in Somalia.The minister added that this cowardly terrorist act confirms the need to address terrorismin all its forms and stressed the need to leg up international efforts in the fight against extremism.

“A suicide bomber rammed his car into the pick-up truck and there were casualties,” Somali security official Abdi Dahir said. “There was a heavy explosion.”

A military convoy from the African Union force in Somalia (Amisom) was also passing nearby at the time of the attack close to the UAE embassy, witnesses said.

“I saw the dead bodies of two people, and there were several wounded soldiers,” said Abdulahi Yasin, who saw the aftermath.

“The explosion was very heavy and it destroyed the pick-up truck,” said Hassan Bile, another witness.

Some witnesses described chaotic scenes as civilians fled through nearby alleys while soldiers fired in the air to prevent a crowd from gathering. Civilians carried wounded victims to nearby hospitals.

United Nations envoy to Somalia, Nick Kay, condemned the “utterly cruel terror attack against UAE in Somalia”. Kay said he had spoken to the UAE ambassador.

On Monday and Tuesday, police said the group had killed six soldiers and an elder in separate incidents in the capital, the south central town of Beledweyne and the seaside town of Marka. Al Shabaab put the number of those killed at nine.

Shabaab attacks seek to counter claims that they are close to defeat after losing territory in the face of an AU and Somali government offensive, regular US drone strikes against their leaders and defections.

The militants have also carried out a string of revenge attacks in neighbouring countries — including the September 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, which left at least 67 people dead, and the April massacre of close to 150 students in Garissa in Kenya’s northeast.

Somalia has been wracked by instability since the collapse of Siad Barre’s hardline regime in 1991.

The current government is being supported by a 22,000-strong AU force that includes troops from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.

The attack comes at the start of the holy month of Ramadan. The Shabaab have in past years intensified attacks during the month of fasting. 

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