By Nangayi Guyson – The hard-line Islamist group al-Shabab using two cars in a suicide bombing, have attacked Somalia’s main airport in Mogadishu, killing soldiers and civilians, officials say.
The five other militants blew themselves up as they tried to reach the airport terminal and all of the militants involved in the attack had died, and two women who were begging outside the airport’s entrance were among those killed, Officials and witnesses said.
The number of civilians who died is still unclear. The government confirmed three deaths, but some officials and witnesses said at least nine people had died, and some reports claimed that Somali police officers had also been killed.
Minister of Information Abdirahman Omar Osman said in a statement that al-Shabab had ignored pleas to allow people to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in peace.
“They have deliberately triggered violence across the city, killing and injuring civilians and soldiers alike,” he said.
However, the vehicle exploded, and shortly afterwards insurgents arrived in another vehicle and began shooting.
The explosion was initially understood to have been a car bomb, but an official from the AU’s Somali mission (Amisom) later said that AU troops had destroyed the car.
“The lead car was destroyed by an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] fired by one of our soldiers, and it exploded at the main entrance,” Amisom spokesman Bahoku Barigye told the AFP news agency.
Mohammed Abdi, a local shopkeeper, told Reuters news agency that he had witnessed two explosions at the airport’s heavily fortified main entrance.
“The car powerfully rammed an Amisom troops’ post at the airport’s gate,” he said.
The government had said that it expected a surge in rebel activity as Ramadan drew to a close.
Al-Shabab is fighting to overthrow the government and install its own radical interpretation of Islamic law.
Al-Shabab and other Islamist rebels control large parts of the country, while the government holds only small parts of Mogadishu.