MOGADISHU: The Somali Islamist group Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for a bomb attack at the gate of a Mogadishu hotel where Turkish delegates were meeting Thursday, a day ahead of a visit by their president, Tayyip Erdogan, to the Somali capital.
“We attacked (the) hotel and killed several of the Somali police officers who were meeting there,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al-Shabab’s military operation spokesman, told Reuters. The statement made no mention of Erdogan’s visit.
“The Turkish delegates are safe inside the hotel,” police captain Farah Nur told Reuters. “The hotel was busy.”
A Reuters witness saw two police officers lying dead in front of the destroyed gate, and what appeared to be the mangled body of the suicide bomber.
In Ankara, Turkish officials said there were no casualties among the Turkish delegation and Erdogan’s visit would go ahead.
Mogadishu is the frequent target of car bombs, and the city has been under heavy security ahead of Erdogan’s visit.
Erdogan became the first non-African leader to visit wartorn Somalia in nearly 20 years when he traveled there in 2011, as Turkey’s prime minister.
Turkey is a key ally of the Somali government. It was a major contributor to the humanitarian aid effort at the height of the 2011 famine and Ankara continues to build hospitals and dispatch aid across Somalia.