Source: AFP/Vancouver Sun
Photo Feysal Omar Reuters
Somali insurgents hurled two hand grenades at a United Nations compound in the war-torn capital Mogadishu Thursday, after a separate explosion near a camp for displaced people, UN sources said.
« There was a hand grenade attack against the UN compound but fortunately the grenades landed onto an empty building next door, » a local UN official said on condition of anonymity, adding that there were no casualties.
The attack followed a separate explosion in Mogadishu’s Hodan area, where a suspected homemade explosive device was set off shortly after a team of journalists had left the area.
A UN security source said there were unconfirmed reports of casualties in that blast, apparently targeting people who had received food aid handouts and were returning back to the camp.
The journalists were on a United Nations day trip to observe humanitarian efforts in the war-torn capital, six months since famine was first declared in Somalia.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, the latest in a string of blasts including roadside bombs and grenade explosions that have rocked the Somali capital in recent months.
The city has seen an increase in such attacks since the Al-Qaeda linked Shebab abandoned fixed positions there in August and switched to guerrilla tactics against the Western-backed government and African Union troops there.
Witnesses said two men threw the hand grenades towards the UN compound but could not approach the area due to high security.
« I saw two men running after the explosion – they must have wanted to have hit the UN compound but getting close to it is hard as it is heavily guarded, » said Abdirahman Ali, a witness.
Hand grenades were thrown at the UN compound earlier this month, again without any casualties.
Somalia is one of the most dangerous places in the world for aid workers, where three regions – including parts of Mogadishu – have been declared a famine zone by the UN.
Despite aid efforts, up to 250,000 people face starvation in the famine zones, while some four million Somalis are in urgent need of aid across the Horn of Africa country, according to the UN.