MOGADISHU, Somalia – Five people, including two Turkish nationals, were killed and more than a dozen others injured on Saturday after a suicide bomber carried out an attack on a road construction site in Somalia.
In a statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the attack took place near construction work on the Mogadishu-Afgoya road, which was funded by the Qatari government and carried out by a Turkish company.
The ministry noted that four Turkish nationals were injured in the attack. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said a total of 14 people were injured in the attack.
Advocating its solidarity with the Somali government and people, the foreign ministry also condemned the attack, claimed by the al-Shabaab terrorist group linked to Al-Qaida, according to a statement from its alleged spokesperson for the operation. soldier, Abdiasis Abu Musab.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke by telephone with relatives of the victims, according to diplomatic sources speaking to the Anadolu Agency (AA).
He offered his condolences to the families of those killed in the attack and wished the injured a speedy recovery, the sources said. He also spoke with the owner of the business and received an update on the current situation, they added.
“I wish God’s mercy to those who lost their lives in the heinous terrorist attack on a Turkish company in Somalia and a speedy recovery to the injured,” Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Twitter, stressing that the Turkish people has no other motive than to help the Somali people.
The bombing took place in the village of Lafole, located about 22 kilometers southwest of the capital Mogadishu, according to a local policeman. Injured Turkish nationals were taken to Erdoğan Hospital in Mogadishu for treatment.
This is the second time that a road project has been attacked by al-Shabab. In January last year, a bomb-laden vehicle exploded in Afgoye, killing at least 15 people and injuring dozens, including several Turkish citizens. The attack temporarily halted the project, which resumed a few months ago after the improvement in security.
A group of Turkish engineers were also among those caught in an explosion that killed at least 90 people at a checkpoint in Mogadishu in December 2019.
Dismissing earlier reports that the attack targeted Turkish troops in the country, security sources said the assailant led it against Turkish workers by blowing himself up while riding his motorcycle.
The attack took place about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the Turkish military base, Camp TURKSOM, in Mogadishu and no military personnel were affected by the attack, the sources added.
Opened in 2017, the Turkish base in Somalia is Ankara’s largest overseas military training base and among the largest foreign-run military centers in the war-torn country.
Turkey is one of Somalia’s closest foreign partners and is among several countries training troops to take over from the African peacekeeping force, AMISOM, whose troops are expected to leave the country this year after 14 years.
In June, two people were killed when a suicide bomber targeted a Turkish military training base in Mogadishu. The suicide bomber tried to hide among the young recruits, who had gathered to enlist in the academy.
Turkey’s vast aid effort at the height of the 2011 famine endeared it to many Somalis and it has continued to provide aid, much of it from private companies.
It has also built schools, hospitals and infrastructure and offers scholarships for Somalis to study in Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has visited Mogadishu on several occasions and when he made his first trip there in 2011, he became the first non-African leader to visit the war-torn country in 20 years.
Turkey has also provided the African nation with more than $ 400 million (2.97 billion Turkish liras) as part of the country’s biggest aid campaign as it battles famine.
Earlier this year, Ankara sent medical equipment planes to help the country cope with the coronavirus pandemic. In some of the worst attacks in Mogadishu, Turkey has often airlifted the injured to its country for treatment.
In another event on Saturday, the U.S. military said it carried out two airstrikes against al-Shabab complexes near Qunya Barrow on Friday, the first such strikes of the year after more than 50 last year. A US statement said both compounds had been destroyed.
Somalia plunged into chaos after the 1991 overthrow of President Siad Barre’s military regime, leading to years of clan warfare followed by the rise of al-Shabab, which once controlled large parts of the country and the capital .
After being driven from its main strongholds by AMISOM in 2011, the terrorist group continued to wage war against the government, with regular attacks on Mogadishu and neighboring countries, which contributed to the force.