NNA – At least six U.N. workers were killed in Somalia on Monday when a huge bomb destroyed a bus in the northeastern town of Garowe, police said.
The head of the United Nations in Somalia, Nick Kay, condemned the attack and said he was “shocked and appalled by (the) loss of life”.
“We have confirmed the death of six U.N. staff, including a foreign national,” police official Abdullahi Mohamed told AFP. “The bomb is believed to have been attached to the minibus and was detonated near the U.N. office.”
A U.N. representative in Somalia was unable immediately to confirm the death toll.
Witnesses and security officials suggested the explosion could also have come from a roadside bomb that was detonated as the minibus, which is used to transport staff from a guesthouse to the U.N. compound, was passing.
Garowe, in the northeastern region of Somalia, is capital of the semi-autonomous Puntland region.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Somalia’s Al-Qaida-affiliated Shebab insurgents carry out regular attacks, targeting both government officials and foreign aid workers.
“Investigations are still ongoing to establish how it happened but I can confirm you that the U.N. compound was not affected,” Mohamed added.
The Shebab, meaning “youth”, emerged out of bitter insurgency against Ethiopia, whose troops entered Somalia in a 2006 U.S.-backed invasion to topple the Islamic Courts Union that was then controlling the capital Mogadishu.
Shebab rebels continue to stage frequent attacks in their fight to overthrow Somalia’s internationally-backed government, as well as to counter claims that they are close to defeat due to the loss of territory, regular U.S. drone strikes against their leaders and defections.
They have also carried out revenge attacks across the wider region against countries which contribute troops to the 22,000-strong African Union force in Somalia, AMISOM.
Earlier this month Shebab gunmen attacked Garissa university in the northeast of the country, killing nearly 150 people, mostly students.
Attacks against the United Nations are also common. In December four people were killed when a suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into a U.N. convoy in the capital Mogadishu.
In the latest attacks, Shebab gunmen shot dead a Puntland lawmaker, Adan Haji Hussein on Saturday and on Sunday militants killed three AU troops in an ambush in the south of the war-ravaged country.–AFP