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Published: Sunday, 7/28/2013

Somalia prime minister says a Turkish official and Somali student died in car blast attack


MOGADISHU, Somalia — A Turkish security official and a Somali student were killed in Saturday’s attack on the Turkish consulate and relief mission in Mogadishu, Somalia’s prime minister said today.

Three suicide bombers also died in the attack on Saturday, said Abdi Farah Shirdon, who also condemned the violence. He said acts of terrorism will not affect Somalia’s relationship with Turkey.

“Our friends and partners station(ed) in Mogadishu are very important for the speedy recovery of Somalia and we have to protect them by all means,” Shirdon said.

Somali militant group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack on Twitter saying they were targeting a group of Turkish diplomats. The group said the operation was not a suicide attack and that those who carried out the attack had safely gone back to their bases.

The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab espouses a strict form of Islam and has long been threatening Turkish workers and aid agencies in Somalia accusing them of spreading secularism.

Police officer Mohammed Abdi had said Saturday the terror attack took place at the Turkish hospital known as Al-Shifa after a suicide bomber detonated a mini-van laden with explosives. It is unclear why the officials referred to the same area by different names, except that the buildings may be in the same compound.

Turkey is playing a big role in Somalia’s reconstruction. Turkish Airline is the first international airline to fly direct to Mogadishu. Turkish Red Crescent aid workers have been undertaking development projects, including street renovations and the construction of schools. Turkish aid workers are also rebuilding one of Somalia’s biggest hospitals.

Recent attacks by Islamic insurgents on Somalia’s capital has forced investors, businessmen and aid workers to have second thoughts about expanding operations in Mogadishu.

In May, a Somali official said the Turkish Red Crescent was reviewing its operation, because of security concerns after a series of attacks. Omer Tasli, the head of the Turkish Red Crescent while admitting security is concern, said they would not pull out.

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