WASHINGTON – At least four people, including a Turkish citizen, were killed and several others were wounded Saturday when a suicide bomber drove a vehicle into a construction site near Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, security officials and witnesses said.
The explosion occurred at a heavily guarded construction site run by a Turkish company near Lafole village on a road between Mogadishu and the city of Afgoye, witnesses said.
“The suicide bomber, driving a car sped toward the Turkish company construction site, hit a barrier, and then Somali security forces guarding the site opened fire to stop the car before it detonated,” a witness told VOA by phone on the condition of anonymity.
Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, a government spokesman, has confirmed the attack.
“Three Somali government soldiers and two Turkish nationals were killed in the attack,” said a statement from Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Roble’s office.
“Targeting a road construction is just another show of the cruelty of the terrorist group al-Shabab against Somali people and the development they hope,” the statement said.
“Such attacks would not deter us from continuing development projects that benefit our country and our people,” Somalia’s prime minister said.
A statement on Twitter by the Turkish foreign minister said that four people, including a Turkish citizen, were lost in the attack and that 4 other Turkish nationals were injured.
Saturday’s suicide attack come hours after a U.S drone targeted the building of the Radio Andalus, al-Shabab’s mouthpiece in Somalia in the vicinity of Qunya Barrow in the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia.
Pro-al-Shabab websites quoted militant officials saying that four missiles hit a house near the radio broadcasting compound.
The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) says it conducted two airstrikes in the area on New Year’s Day, targeting two militant compounds, noting its initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed.
“This action clearly demonstrates our continuing commitment to Somalia and our regional partners,” said U.S Army Maj Gen. Joel Tyler, director of operations for U.S. Africa Command. “We retain the means and the will to strike the al-Shabab terrorist network when necessary to protect the region and ultimately, our own nation.”
The strike is the first by the U.S. military in Somalia in 2021 and comes as the U.S. continues to remove troops from Somalia following President Donald Trump’s directive in December.
The Expeditionary Sea Base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams is “conducting maritime operations off the coast of Somalia” to “reposition U.S., DOD personnel from Somalia to other locations in East Africa,” AFRICOM spokesperson Kelly Cahalan told VOA earlier in an email. The operation is dubbed Operation Octave Quartz.
The 800-foot-long vessel, which is based at Souda Bay, Crete, can support a variety of maritime-based missions, including supporting special operations forces and humanitarian support, according to the U.S. Navy.
Source: Voice of America