3 October 2018

Somalia: Al-Shabaab Attacks EU Convoy in Mogadishu, Two Killed

Photo: Capital FM
A survivor is carried out of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, where armed gunmen opened fire and reportedly killed up to 30 people and wounded dozens (file photo).

A suicide bomber drove a car into a Western military convoy in Mogadishu on Monday, killing two people and injuring four.

Witnesses and officials say the car, packed with explosives and driven by a suicide bomber, hit an armored military vehicle belonging to the Italian military outside the Jaalle Siyad military base in the Somali capital's Hodan district.

The al-Shabab militant group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Aamin Ambulance services in Mogadishu reported that the bodies of two men killed in the explosion were recovered, and four injured people — including a child and a woman — were transported. All the victims are civilians, witnesses and officials say.

It's not known if any Italian military personnel were hurt in the attack. The personnel are in Mogadishu as part of a European Union military mission to train Somali government forces.

A witness told VOA Somali that the incident took place on the October 21 Road.

"The Italian convoy was coming from the opposite side, but before we passed each other, the explosion erupted, we were covered by [a] plume of smoke, then I jumped out of my car," said one witness, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He said the Italian military personnel did not fire after the explosion hit their convoy. He said he believes that restraint may have saved other lives.

Charcoal smuggling

Meanwhile, Somalia has expressed "deep regret" that a ship carrying more than 200,000 bags of charcoal smuggled out of Somalia has docked at the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr.

The Somali ambassador to the United Nations, Abukar Dahir Osman, told VOA Somali that the ship docked at Umm Qasr late last month.

Osman says charcoal production, which begins with the cutting down of trees, harms the environment in Somalia. However, he said, businessmen who are involved in the tree cutting have forged relationships with al-Shabab.

"[Charcoal is] the biggest source of income for al-Shabab, and it enables them to continue the war," Osman said, adding that al-Shabab receives about $7 from each bag of charcoal.

United Nations investigators told the Security Council in November 2017 that al-Shabab earns approximately $10 million per year through the illicit charcoal trade.

Somalia has urged Iraq to carry out an investigation and to "be swift in actions to halt" giving clearance to the ships smuggling charcoal out of the country.

VOA's Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulle contributed to this report.

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