Africa

Somalia car bomb targets UN convoy near airport

A car burns following a blast near the heavily fortified gates of the airport in Mogadishu on 3 December 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption A Somali intelligence officer was killed in the blast, police say

At least six people have been killed in a car bomb blast next to a UN convoy in Somalia's capital, police say.

The vehicle packed with explosives blew up as the convoy travelled along the road near the international airport in Mogadishu, police said.

A second blast targeted African Union (AU) vehicles about 25km (15 miles) from the city, a BBC reporter says.

Al-Shabab, an Islamist militant group linked to al-Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for the airport attack.

On Tuesday, the group said it killed 36 quarry workers near the northern Kenyan town of Mandera because of the involvement of Kenyan forces in Somalia.

'Smoke all around'

The United Nations and the British and Italian embassy compounds are based near Mogadishu's heavily fortified airport.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rescue workers battled to extinguish the flames
Image copyright AP
Image caption Foreign security personnel were at the site of the blast

"The explosion was very big and there is smoke all around the area. I can hardly see people lying on the ground, either dead or wounded," witness Shamso Idle told AFP news agency.

Police said at least six people, including a Somali intelligence officer, were killed and some others were wounded in the blast, reports the BBC's Mohamed Moalimu from Mogadishu.

The UN has not reported any casualties among its staff.

Its security personnel were at the site, inspecting the wreckage, our correspondent says.

The explosion targeting AU troops took place in Lafole village, south of Mogadishu, our correspondent says.

Al-Shabab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab said the aim of the Mogadishu attack was to target "foreign mercenaries".

The UN has no troops in Somalia, and says its staff are involved in political activities aimed at helping the government achieve stability.

The AU has some 22,000 troops, from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Uganda, helping the weak and divided Somali government battle al-Shabab.

Various armed groups have been battling for control of Somalia since the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991.

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