, MOGADISHU, Somalia, Jun 20 – UN chief Ban Ki-moon expressed outrage at a “despicable” Islamist attack on a UN compound in Somalia which left 16 dead but vowed that the organisation would not end its work in the troubled country.
Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab insurgents killed nine people as they shot and blasted their way into the UN compound in Mogadishu Wednesday, the most serious attack on the United Nations there in recent years.
Three foreigners including two South Africans in the UN compound died, along with a Somali UN worker, two Somali security guards and three civilians in the surrounding streets, officials said. Seven attackers also died in the assault.
Ban telephoned Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud soon after the attack, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.
“The secretary general said the United Nations would not be deterred from delivering its mandate,” said Nesirky, in a statement released from Beijing where Ban is on an official visit.
He said Ban was “deeply concerned and outraged by the despicable attack”.
The 15-nation Security Council also expressed outrage – but stressed its resolve “that terrorist acts in Somalia will not lessen the council’s resolve to support Somalia’s transition to peace and stability”.
The insurgents, who boasted about the killings of “infidels”, used a pickup truck laden with explosives and suicide attackers to blast their way into the fortified base.
“Our commandos attacked the UN compound…. We set off an explosion and entered,” a senior Shabaab official told AFP, saying they had wanted to attack “the infidel forces”.
Somali and African Union troops later moved into the complex – despite the Islamists battling back with heavy gunfire – to end the hour-and-a-half siege.
“Somali soldiers along with African Union forces stormed the compound and killed the attackers,” said Somali police official Abdulahi Osman.
Government officials said seven Shabaab fighters took part in attack, all of whom either detonated suicide vests or were shot dead.
Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon issued a statement condemning the attack as a “senseless and despicable attack on innocent UN civilians”.
He added: “The UN are our friends and partners, and the UN agencies offer us humanitarian help and support, so I and all Somalis are appalled that they should be the target and victims of such barbaric violence.”
In Washington, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden denounced Shabaab’s “repugnant terrorist tactics”.
The group “continues to use to stand in the way of efforts to ease the suffering of the Somali people,” she said.