25 May 2009

Somalia: UN Envoy Visits Mogadishu, Suicide Bomber Was Al Shabaab

The United Nations Special Representative to Somalia, Mr. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, visited the Somali capital Mogadishu for the first time Monday, as Al Shabaab militants claimed responsibility for yesterday's deadly suicide bombing, Radio Garowe reports.

Mr. Ould-Abdallah held private discussions with Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed at the Villa Somalia presidential compound in Mogadishu, Information Minister Farhan Ali Mohamud told reporters afterwards."

"He [Ould-Abdallah] attended the Council of Ministers meeting, where it was decided that airplanes cannot land at airports the government does not control," the Information Minister said without elaborating.

He urged international agencies delivering humanitarian aid by port and airport to contact the Somali government before using airports and port facilities outside the government's control.

President Sheikh Sharif's interim government controls very little territory in Somalia and most port and airport facilities in the country are outside the government's control, with Islamist rebels controlling airports and ports in Kismayo and Marka, and an airport in Baidoa.

Information Minister Farhan did not elaborate whether or not the ban includes the self-governing regions of Somaliland and Puntland.

The U.N. Special Envoy flew out of Mogadishu's Aden Adde International Airprot later today without addressing local media.

'More suicide bombings'

A fighter who spoke for Al Shabaab guerrillas told reporters that yesterday's deadly suicide bombing that killed 10 people was organized by Al Shabaab and intended to inflict "maximum damage" on a government target. READ: Suicide bomber kills 10 in Mogadishu, incl. six soldiers

Sheikh Hussein Ali Fidow, Al Shabaab's political chief, told a press conference in Mogadishu that the suicide bombing was carried out by Abdulkadir Hassan Mohamed "Atir."

"Atir was born in Medina district of Mogadishu," Sheikh Fidow said, while aiming to dismiss Somali government charges that the suicide bomber was a foreigner.

He indicated that Al Shabaab is "organizing more suicide bombings" to target government officials and buildings. Yesterday's deadly attack targeted a military facility where hundreds of government soldiers were reportedly receiving training.

But Information Minister Farhan rejected Fidow's claims, saying that the suicide bomber was shot before his vehicle exploded and therefore "damage was minimized."

The U.S. government considers Al Shabaab to be a terrorist organization and accuses its leaders of having ties to Al Qaeda.

Copyright © 2009 Garowe Online. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.