At least 16 people were killed as two car bombs exploded outside the law courts in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu and gunmen stormed the building today, witnesses said, as the driver of a Turkish Red Crescent vehicle was also killed according to sources.
A car bomb exploded at a building housing Somali intelligence along the road to the airport as Turkish and African Union (AU) vehicles were passing, police and witnesses said.
Turkish convoy’s driver died and three Turks were slightly injured in the incident, according to Turkish sources. Wounded Turks were taken to Şifa hospital in Mogadishu.
“Everything can happen in Mogadishu conditions. I hope this attack is not directed on Turkish staff,” a Turkish source told Hürriyet Daily News in condition of anonymity.
Turkish Red Crescent said in a written statement that they have lost a Somali origined staff and three Turkish staff were injured in the bombings. Turks who got injured were announced as Kenan Kongur, Murat Demirbaş and Fatih Çelik by the aid organization. The Red Crescent also said that the injured Turks will be broughten to Turkey by air ambulance.
Shabaab militants linked to al Qaeda have claimed responsibility for the attack at the court complex.
“This was a holy action which targeted non-believers who were in a meeting within the court complex. We will continue until Somalia is liberated from invaders,” Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage told AFP and vowed there would be fresh attacks. However it was not immediately clear if Shabaab was claiming responsibility for the attack that hit the convoy.
“About seven well-armed men in government uniform entered the court today as soon as a car bomb exploded at the gate. We thought they were government soldiers,” said Aden Sabdow, who works at the mayor’s office adjacent to the court.
“Armed men entered the court and then we heard a blast. Then they started opening fire,” said Hussein Ali, who works at the courts.
Somali forces arrived and besieged the court compound and there was a second blast while shots continued to ring out.
A large blast hit an area near Mogadishu airport hours later, residents said.
Despite a string of losses in recent months, the Shebab remain a potent threat, still controlling rural areas as well as carrying out guerrilla attacks in areas apparently under government control.
Somalia has been ravaged by conflict since 1991, but a new UN-backed government took power last year, ending eight years of transitional rule by a corruption-riddled administration.