Denel has confirmed that its three employees killed during an attack on a United Nations compound in Somalia yesterday were working for specialist de-mining company Mechem.
Two South African nationals were killed in the attack while the third Denel worker was Somali. The deceased are Morne Lotter (41) from Oudtshoorn,Alan Simpson (53) from Port Elizabeth and Somali national Isak Mohammed Osman .
“This is a very unfortunate incident but Denel will continue to support all peace-keeping efforts carried out under the auspices of the United Nations and the African Union. In this instance our employees lost their lives while they were providing services to the UN’s peacekeeping efforts in the region,” said Denel Group CEO Riaz Saloojee.
“We further extend our deepest condolences go to the families and friends of the UN employees who lost their lives,” he said, adding that the company would provide emotional support to the family members of the deceased.
Al Shabaab insurgents killed nine people yesterday morning when they attacked the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) compound in the capital Mogadishu. They used a pickup truck laden with explosives to blast their way into the compound. Commandos then opened fire on the people inside and fought a 90 minute gunbattle with Somali and African Union troops.
In addition to the two South Africans, a third foreigner, a Somali UN worker, two Somali security guards and three civilians were killed. Seven of the attackers were killed as well, bringing the death toll to 16.
The Denel staff in Somalia belong to Mechem, and were providing camp management services to the UN operations in the region, which included the management and provision of catering, cleaning and logistical support as well as mine protected vehicles in the region, Denel said.
“The remaining employees of Denel in Somalia have been moved to facilities under the protection of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) where they are reported to be safe.”
“Investigations into the incident are continuing and we will inform South Africans as information becomes available,” Saloojee said.
The company is making the necessary arrangements to repatriate the bodies of the South African employees.
Al Shabaab militants withdrew from Mogadishu in August 2011 under pressure from African Union troops but have staged numerous attacks on the capital since then. In April, 34 people were killed after nine suicide attackers stormed Mogadishu’s main court complex.
“The UN, a merchant of death and a satanic force of evil, has a long, inglorious record of spreading nothing but poverty, dependency and disbelief,” al Shabaab said on its Twitter feed.
The top UN official in Somalia, Nicholas Kay, said there were lessons to be learnt from the attack but that the UN would not be deterred from its mission, Reuters reports.
Asked whether UN staff would be evacuated from Mogadishu, Kay said: “No. The UN is here to help and we are here to stay.”
The Somali government condemned the attack and offered “deepest sympathy to all victims”.
“Today all Somalia stands shoulder to shoulder with Unsom,” Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid said on Twitter, referring to the new UN Somalia assistance programme.