Huge explosion in Somali capital injures 7 people, say witnesses and official

Other News Materials 9 April 2008 02:50 (UTC +04:00)

( AP ) - A car rammed into a building where Burundian peacekeepers are based in the Somali capital in an apparent suicide bombing on Tuesday, causing a huge explosion and wounding seven people, witnesses and an African Union official said.

The military wing of Somalia's Islamic group claimed responsibility for the attack in a

southern neighborhood of Mogadishu.

"A car driving at break neck speed passed us and within seconds turned around and rammed into a locked gate that is not normally used. Then we heard a huge explosion whose dust covered us," said Abdullahi Hussein Sabriye, who added he witnessed the attack while he was 50 meters ( 165 feet) away at a teashop.

"A huge explosion occurred outside the building where Burundian peacekeepers are based," said Maj. Bahoku Barigye, the African Union force spokesman, adding two soldiers were wounded.

The car exploded before it got inside the complex, said a Burundian soldier who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. He said five Somali civilians also were wounded.

Sheik Mukhtar Robow, a spokesman for al-Shabab told The Associated Press that his group was behind the attack. Al-Shabab, or "The Youth," is the military wing of the Council of Islamic Courts that Ethiopian troops backing Somali soldiers ousted from its southern Somalia strongholds and the capital in December 2006.

"One of our fighters has targeted the African Union troops who are here to support the Ethiopian troops' massacre of our people," Robow said. He did not give any other details.

The 2,000 Ugandan and Burundian troops in Mogadishu are part of a proposed 8,000-troop AU peacekeeping force that has not been fully deployed because African countries have failed to commit the required troops. The force is supposed to protect key government buildings, the port and airport as well as train a national army and police force for Somalia.

The peacekeepers have generally been well received by Mogadishu residents because they are perceived to be neutral in the near daily violence that hits the capital.

Somalia has a weak U.N.-backed government, but the country has experienced anarchy and chaos since warlords ousted longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Later the warlords turned on each other, plunging Somalia into a cycle of violence.