MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A suicide bomber detonated his explosives near a moving convoy of African Union troops in Somalia’s capital, killing himself and at least two people walking by, a police official said Friday.
Mogadishu police official Mohamed Abdi said the dead were civilians, and a spokesman for the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia —known as AMISOM— said two soldiers were wounded in the attack near Mogadishu’s international airport.
“We have two minor injuries. This is not something that can stop AMISOM from stabilizing Somalia,” said spokesman Col. Ali Aden Houmed.
The military convoy was returning from its regular patrol of stations in Mogadishu where African Union troops are based when the attack happened, he said.
Yusuf Ali, who witnessed the attack from a safe distance, said the suicide bomber forced his way into the path of a moving military vehicle, narrowly missing it when his bomb went off. The blast blew the bomber into pieces, he said, and then the soldiers started firing into the air to disperse people.
It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack, but the al-Qaida-linked rebels of al-Shabab frequently stage similar attacks in Mogadishu.
Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon condemned the attack saying the sporadic terrorist attacks will not derail the progress being made in Somalia.
Shirdon said in a statement that a car bomber attacked the convoy “killing and wounding several civilians.”
African Union forces expelled al-Shabab from Mogadishu in August 2011, ending years of daily violence that had caused the rest of the world to shun the capital for two decades. After the ouster of al-Shabab the international community started trickling back into the capital, and the United Nations began moving its personnel to Somalia from Kenya.
But the extremists of al-Shabab still hold sway in large parts of rural southern Somalia and retain the ability to stage lethal attacks even in Mogadishu. Last month militants on a suicide mission invaded the U.N. compound in Mogadishu with a truck bomb and then poured inside, killing at least 13 people before dying in the assault.
Associated Press writer Rodney Muhumuza in Kampala, Uganda, contributed to this report.