MOGADISHU, JAN 24 – At least 14 civilians were killed on Saturday when a suicide car bomb targeting African Union peackeepers in Somalia hit a bus south of the capital Mogadishu, an official said.
The explosives-laden car was heading to a control point manned by the AU forces in Mogadishu’s southern K4 intersection when a policeman opened fire at the vehicle.
"At least 14 civilians died when a would-be suicide bomber hit a civilian bus in Maka Al Mukarama road. A policeman tried to stop him and fired bullets at the car and it hit the bus killing all on board and the bomber himself," Abdifatah Ibrahim Shaweye, Mogadishu’s deputy governor told AFP.
Shaweye said the suicide bomber was a foreigner after an arm was retrieved from the car wreckage.
"We have one of his arms which is clearly showing that the suicide bomber was a foreigner," said Shaweye, explaining that the bomber’s light skin tone showed he was not Somali.
The AU forces, comprising 3,400 Ugandan and Burundian soldiers, have often been targeted by Islamist insurgents since deploying to the volatile capital in March 2007.
Ethiopia, which sent troops into Somalia to prop up a weak tramsitional government against an Islamist movement, pulled out of Mogadishu earlier this month.
Their withdrawal had been one of the main demands of the country’s Islamist-led opposition, but hardline militias have vowed to continue fighting against government forces and African peacekeepers.
The Ethiopian forces’ pullout has also created a security vacuum drawing clan-based militias and warlords into a scramble for control over the capital’s various districts.