Three wounded in bomb blast outside airport in central Somalia


Two Somali soldiers and an African Union peacekeeper were wounded when Islamist militants detonated a bomb outside an airport in the south central town of Beledweyne, the group and a local military source said on Monday.

The bomb was hidden in a “paper bag”, according to Ibrahim, a local military officer who did not wish to reveal his full name.

It is not clear if the bomb was intended to be smuggled on a plane. Last month a plane was forced to make an emergency landing after a bomb smuggled aboard at Mogadishu International Airport exploded mid-air. A suspected suicide bomber was killed and two people were wounded during the incident.

Al Shabaab, which is aligned to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack on the small airport in Beledwayne, about 350km north from Mogadishu.
“We were behind the blast that targeted Djibouti forces. We shall give details of casualties later,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military operation spokesman, told Reuters.

Ibrahim, the military officer, said the African Union (AU) peacekeeper wounded was from Djibouti. Soldiers from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Burundi are also fighting al Shabaab as part of the 22,000-strong AU force.

Al Shabaab wants to topple a Western-backed government in Mogadishu and impose its strict version of Islamic law on Somalia.