By Abdurrahman Warsameh
Islamist Al-Shabaab group in Somalia on Thursday claimed responsibility for two suicide car bombings that simultaneously targeted at bases of African Union (AU) peacekeepers in the Somali capital of Mogadishu while the African Union envoy to Somalia condemned it.
An unnamed official from the Islamist Al-Shabaab movement quoted by Shabelle Radio, an independent station in Mogadishu, said the two suicide car bombs bearing UN logos managed to enter the camps where Ugandan contingent of the peacekeepers were based next to the airport in the capital.
Armoured vehicles carrying Ugandan AMISON peacekeepers rush to their main base in Mogadishu. Two powerful explosions have ripped through a Ugandan peacekeepers' compound at Mogadishu airport, killing at least two people in a twin suicide attack claimed by hardline Somali rebels. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)
The official claimed one of the suicide car bombs struck the venue where officials from the United States, the UN and NATO were holding a meeting inside the base of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) while the other hit a meeting place for Somali government security officials, saying "attack achieved its objectives".
The African Union Special Representative for Somalia Nicolas Bwakira condemned "in the strongest terms possible" the attacks on AMISOM Force Headquarters in Mogadishu.
"At least two bombs exploded at the Force Headquarters at about midday today, causing injuries and damage to AMISOM peacekeepers, facilities and equipment," said the AU envoy in the statement.
The AU special representative reiterated that despite what he termed as a barbaric attack, the African Union remains resolute in its commitment to supporting the Somali people and the transitional federal government in their peace and reconciliation efforts.
The attack came only three days after a senior Al-Shabaab commander, Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, was killed in a U.S. airborne raid in the south of Mogadishu.
The Islamist group on Tuesday vowed to revenge for the U.S. operation by targeting "western interests" in Somalia.
It was not clear if the suicide attacks and the killing of Saleh Nabhan were related.
Witnesses in the area where the attack took place said the explosions were "massive and deafening" with black smoke pillowing from the bases in the south of the restive Somali capital.
Heavy shelling by African Union forces on rebel positions ensued targeting Mogadishu's main Bakara market following the suicide attack. Traders and shoppers at the market busy with business fled in panic.
It was not so far clear if there were any casualties from the shelling or suicide car bombings. Source: Xinhua