MOGADISHU – Two militants who attempted a mortar attack in the Somali capital Mogadishu were were killed by security forces on Sunday, officials and witnesses said. A bomb exploded the same day near a relief convoy, injuring two security guards but none of the relief workers, while two children who were nearby were killed.
The mortar shells were seemingly aimed at Mogadishu’s airport complex, which houses many UN agencies, African Union peacekeepers and embassies, but landed instead into residential villages in Wadajir district, according to security officer Hassan Osman Mohamed.
The militants fired off three or more rounds but they did not manage to hurt anybody. Mohamed said police and security troops launched an operation to hunt down the attackers, who escaped with a vehicle.
Mohamed added that security troops then clashed with two of the attackers who were armed with AK-47s, shooting them dead. Their vehicle then exploded on its own.
“No one was killed or wounded in car bomb blast. The exploded vehicle was belonging to the enemy of our people,” he added.
However, the blasts caused some unrest in the city. “I closed my small shop and run way after being heard several explosions. I can’t confirm you if the blasts hit the airport or not,” said shopkeeper Nor Ahmed, who added that he had also heard sporadic gunfire from near the airport of the capital.
In an online statement, the Al Qaeda linked group Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack. The group said on its website that at least seven security soldiers had been killed in bomb and gun attacks carried out by its fighters, though independent sources did not corroborate this.
Separately, relief workers traveling in a convoy outside the capital Mogadishu survived a bomb blast but two little children on the roadside were killed.
World Food Programme vehicles were heading to Mogadishu after a trip to the camps just outside the capital where hundreds of drought-effected families have gone to live.
In a phone interview, Mohamed Hassan, a witness said the blast happened at Km 13 road. “I saw black smoke rising over the blast area after I heard huge sound of explosion. The blast was aimed at targeting vehicle carrying WFP workers,” Hassan said.
The armed group of Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the explosion.
Challiss McDonough, a spokesman for the World Food Programme, confirmed the incident, writing on Twitter, “A blast struck about 100m behind a WFP convoy in Mogadishu on Sunday. All passengers & drivers are safe; 2 security guards slightly wounded.”
Separately, the African Union Mission in Somalia confirmed that it foiled an attack in Mogadishu on Medina road also on Sunday, working together with national forces. AMISOM praised the Somali National Army and National Intelligence and Security Agency for “swift action” in thwarting the attempted attack on Medina road.
It said that the joint forces killed four Al Shabaab militants and recovered three submachine guns and one 60mm mortar.
By Abdirizak Mohamud Tuuryare