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Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 20:31

Somalia: 13 killed in UN office attacks

By Associated Press
Somalia: 13 killed in UN office attacks

United Nations office guards clear the scene after a car bomb outside the UN's office in Mogadishu, Somalia , July 26, 2016 . (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

MOGADISHU — Two suicide bombers detonated explosives-laden cars on Tuesday outside the offices of the UN's mine clearing agency and a Somali army checkpoint in Mogadishu, killing 13 people, including seven guards, Somali police officials said.

The two blasts took place near the African Union base in the area of the Mogadishu airport, Somali police chief Gen. Mohamed Sheikh Hassan said at a press conference.

Somalia's Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the bombings, according to the group's Andalus radio station.

Unlike previous attacks by al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaida, gunmen did not accompany the suicide bomber, said police Capt. Mohamed Hussein. The first suicide car bomber tried to speed through the barrier at the UN office but guards shot at the car, he said. The guards at the UN offices were from a private security firm, said a police official, who insisted on anonymity because he isn't authorized to speak to the press.

A second suicide blast targeted a checkpoint manned by Somali security forces near the African Union base in Mogadishu, said Hussein. Casualties there remain unclear.

Al-Shabab is waging an insurgency against Somalia's weak UN-backed government with the goal of establishing an Islamic emirate in Somalia, ruled by a strict form of Islam.

Earlier this month, eight soldiers were killed when an al-Shabab suicide car bomber targeted a Somalia military training camp and attackers then entered the base on foot.

More than 22,000 troops and police serve in the African Union force, which also includes troops from Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia. Al-Shabab opposes the presence of foreign troops in Somalia and has launched attacks in countries that have contributed to the AU force. Although al-Shabab was ousted from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, in 2011, it continues to wage a deadly guerrilla campaign that includes suicide bombings.

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