The United Nations says a suicide attack by al-Shabaah rebels on its main Mogadishu compound will not deter it from "building peace" in Somalia. Four foreigners working at the UN compound and 4 Somali guards were killed.
Somali Interior Minister Abdikarim Husien Gulled said a UN staff member and two South Africans working for a defense company were among those killed during Wednesday's assault on the UN's development aid compound in Mogadishu.
The attack began when rebels dressed in military uniform detonated a truck bomb at the gates of the compound. Dozens of UN staffers fled into a secure bunker before African Union peacekeepers and Somali troops fought the assailants for more than an hour.
All seven assailants were killed. Al-Shabab later claimed responsibility and said it had tried to "dislodge" the UN and accused it of serving the objectives of the United States.
UN commends guards
UN deputy spokesman Eduardo del Buey said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had commended security guards, some of whom died while defending the compound, adding that the UN would not be deterred from fulfilling its mission.
"Malicious terrorist attacks … will not deter the United Nations or weaken its resolve to stand by the people and the government of Somalia as they work courageously to build peace in their country," said del Buey.
The UN Security Council, which is currently chaired by Britain, condemned the attack. The incident would be investigated, said Britain's ambassador to the UN Mark Lyall Grant.
Saying that significant gains had been made in Somalia in recent months, Lyall grant said: "It's fragile, but we need to support it."
UN-backed African Union forces expelled al-Shabab from Mogadishu in August 2011. They still control swathes of southern and central Somalia. In recent weeks the UN had accelerated its relocation of personnel from Kenya to Mogadishu.
Condolences for families
Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon condemned what he called al-Shabaab's "barbaric violence."
An African Union official, Mahamet Saleh Annadif, said the bloc sent its condolences to the families of the victims of the attack.
More than a million Somalis are estimated to be living in humanitarian emergency or crisis conditions, according to the UN.
ipj/xx (AP, dpa)