Suicide bomber targets African Union troops in Mogadishu
Somali civilians killed in Shabaab's suicide attack outside of an African Union base in Mogadishu Photo from Garowe.
A suicide car bomb targeting African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu killed more than 13 civilians and security personnel.
The suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden car after being stopped at a police checkpoint outside of an African Union base, Garowe Radio reported. The police officer and 12 civilians in a bus were killed in the massive explosion. More than 20 civilians were wounded during clashes that took place after the attack. African Union forces deployed armored vehicles during the 30-minute battle.
The head of the suicide bomber was recovered after the explosion, a local government official told reporters. The suicide bomber "was clearly a foreigner," the official said, intimating the bomber was of Arab origin.
Shabaab, al Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia, took credit for the strike. Shabaab had threatened to continue to conduct attacks against African Union peacekeepers after Somali forces withdrew from the capital and much of Somalia last week.
"We will attack the bases of the occupying forces in K4 and the airport until the last foreign forces leave our country," Sheik Muktar Robow Abu Mansoor said at a news conference as Ethiopian forces pulled out of Mogadishu. Shabaab and other Islamist groups immediately occupied police stations and security outposts immediately after the Ethiopian withdrawal.
Shabaab carried out several suicide attacks against government forces during 2008. The biggest attack took place in the northern semi-autonomous states of Somaliland and Puntland. Five coordinated attacks hit the presidential palace, a UN compound, and the Ethiopian Consulate in Somaliland, and an intelligence headquarters in Puntland.
Imagery of a Shabaab fighter from the terror groups' website.
Shabaab and allied Islamist groups have taken control of all of southern Somalia except for small pockets in Mogadishu and the town of Baidoa, where the parliament of the Transitional Federal Government meets. Last September, Shabaab formally reached out to al Qaeda with a request for full integration into the terror network.
Several senior members of al Qaeda, including Fazul Abdullah Mohammed and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, serve as senior leaders in Shabaab. Fazul and Nabhan are wanted for their involvement in the planning and the execution of the coordinated bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Fazul was also behind the 2002 car bombing attack in Kenya and missile attack on an Israeli airliner.