Suicide bombers strike Somali capital port
Mogadishu - Two Islamist suicide bombers killed a civilian worker but also lost their lives when they attacked the port in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Thursday, AU and security officials said.
"Several insurgents armed with pistols, including two wearing explosives belts, entered the [port] area and carried out an attack on the people working there," said Paddy Ankunda, a spokesperson for the African Union force in Somalia (Amisom).
Mohamed Ibrahim, a Somali security services official, said one of the suicide bombers was killed by security forces while the other blew himself up near a depot of the World Food Programme.
Officials said one civilian was killed in the raid although earlier witness statements had put the civilian death toll at two.
Security at the port is the responsibility of government troops and Amisom.
Meanwhile Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage, a spokesperson for the hardline Shabaab Islamists, told reporters that "specially trained Mujahedeen fighters have targeted the second biggest base at the seaport where infidels that invaded our country are based.
"Thanks to Allah, the information we got now indicates the Mujahedeen fighters who were armed with guns have killed many before committing suicide, the number of the dead reached 21 and many others were injured."
Amisom meanwhile spoke of "an inhuman attack against civilians, aimed at terrorising them and disrupting the transit of merchandise".
"The Shabaab know that their days are counted at Bakara [the city's biggest market], and they wanted to bring commerce to its knees before departing," the African peacekeeping force said.
Shabaab Islamists have vowed to topple the transitional Somali government and chase out African Union troops supporting it.
The Shabaab have been losing ground in the capital in recent months as pro-government troops and Amisom clawed back several key positions.
Regional security sources say that part of the Shabaab’s strategy in the face of Amisom's advance was to step up suicide attacks.
Somali police said at the end of May they had learned of plans for a series of such attacks in Mogadishu.
On May 30 two Ugandan troops from Amisom were killed in a suicide attack on their base in south Mogadishu.