Turkish president visits Somalia under tight security


Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan travelled to the Somali capital Mogadishu under heavy security on Sunday, making his second visit in four years to promise further investment in the country as it struggles to rebuild after two decades of conflict.

Erdogan, who in 2011 became the first non-African leader to go to Somalia in nearly 20 years, visited various projects that have benefited from Turkish investment, including a new airport terminal and a rehabilitated seaport.

Turkey was a major contributor to the humanitarian aid effort at the height of the 2011 famine and Ankara continues to build hospitals and dispatch aid across Somalia.

In a statement welcoming the visit, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said Turkish aid has been a “force of nature” for Somalia.
“Turkey did not hold back, waiting for stability before it invested. Instead, it invested to achieve it,” he said.

Mogadishu has been under a virtual lockdown since late last week in anticipation of Erdogan’s visit, which was delayed while Erdogan went to Saudi Arabia to pay his condolences on the death of King Abdullah.

A suicide bomber on Thursday rammed a car laden with explosives into the gate of a Mogadishu hotel where Turkish and Somali delegates were meeting, killing two security guards.

The Somali Islamist group Al Shabaab, which has carried out attacks across east Africa including a 2013 raid on a Nairobi shopping mall that killed 67, claimed responsibility for the assault but did not mention the delegations or Erdogan.

There have been attacks on Turkish interests in Somalia before. In July 2013, a car loaded with explosives rammed into an office housing Turkish embassy staff in Mogadishu, killing three people. That attack was also claimed by al Shabaab.