TEN UN workers were killed in Somalia on Monday when a huge bomb placed by Al-Shabaab militants 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”.
Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shabaab insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack, branding the United Nations a “colonisation force in Somalia”.
“We have confirmed the death of six UN staff, including a foreign national,” Somali police official Abdullahi Mohamed told AFP.
Garowe, in the northeastern region of Somalia, is capital of the semi-autonomous Puntland region, and the region had largely escaped the militant violence that plagues the rest of Somalia until recently.
Shabaab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab confirmed the Islamist group had carried out the attack. “We targeted the UN in Garowe, we killed some and wounded others. They are part of the colonisation force in Somalia,” he told AFP.
The Shabaab, meaning “youth”, emerged out of bitter insurgency against Ethiopia, whose troops entered Somalia in a 2006 US-backed invasion to topple the Islamic Courts Union that was then controlling the capital Mogadishu.
They 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 US 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.
The militants killed three soldiers from AMISOM on Sunday.
That attack brought the number of AMISOM troops killed by Al-Shabaab over a two-day to six.
AU envoy to Somalia Maman Sidikou condemned “the cowardly ambush” on a convoy of troops on Sunday in southern Somalia’s Lower Shabelle district, between the small settlements of Lego and Balidogle.
“Our gallant soldiers put up a spirited fight, during which three of them lost their lives, while others sustained injuries,” Sidikou said in a statement.
Shabaab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab claimed the attack, boasting to AFP that five AU soldiers had been killed and vehicles destroyed.
He said the soldiers were from Burundi, but the AU force in Somalia, AMISOM, did not immediately give details of their nationality.
Earlier on Saturday Al-Shabaab killed three Kenyan soldiers and wounded eight others in an ambush in southern Somalia, Kenya’s military official confirmed Sunday.
Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) spokesman David Obonyo said the 11 soldiers who are part of AMISOM were ambushed in Delbio area in southern part of the Horn of Africa nation while on a route patrol.
“The three soldiers who were seriously injured died while undergoing treatment while the rest are in stable condition. They were later driven to Kenya-Somalia border and then flown to Nairobi for specialized treatment,” Obonyo said.
“Our chopper landed in Dadaab airstrip and airlifted the injured to Nairobi where the three who were critically injured died but the rest are in stable condition,” Obonyo told Xinhua by telephone.
He said the operation was still underway to in pursuit of the attackers who retreated into forest after the ambush.
“The problem is that it’s raining heavily in Somalia. We are in warzone and anything like ambush is normal because an enemy who is hiding in forests can attack you at any time,” he added.
Troops from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda are also in the AMISOM force.
The Shabaab have also carried out revenge attacks across the wider region against countries which contribute troops to AMISOM, particularly in neighbouring Kenya.
On Saturday, Shabaab gunmen shot dead a local lawmaker, Adan Haji Hussein, an MP in the semi-autonomous northern Puntland region.
In December four people were killed when a suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into a UN convoy in the capital Mogadishu.
On April 2, Shabaab gunmen attacked a university in Kenya’s northeastern town of Garissa, lining up non-Muslim students for execution and killing 148 people, in their worst ever attack.