MOGADISHU, Somalia Apr 8 (Garowe Online) -
A Toyota pickup truck loaded with explosives struck a gated checkpoint where African Union peacekeepers stood guard Tuesday, killing the suicide bomber and a peacekeeper from Burundi, sources said.
Witnesses in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, tell Garowe Online that the pickup truck drove at lightening speed towards the gated checkpoint, giving the AU peacekeepers seconds to flee.
A spokesman for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) confirmed to international media that the suicide car bomber exploded at the gate of the complex housing peacekeepers from Burundi.
According to the spokesman, one soldier was wounded in the huge explosion and an unidentified body recovered at the scene.
But witnesses said they saw the body of an AMISOM soldier being pulled out of the wreckage, with a load of smoke plummeting to the air that could be seen across Mogadishu.
A spokesman for the Somali militant group, al Shabaab, promptly phoned Mogadishu-based radio stations to claim responsibility for the suicide car bomb attack on the AU peacekeepers.
This is the first time AMISOM peacekeepers from Burundi have been targeted in Mogadishu, although Somali insurgents had attacked Ugandan peacekeepers at least four times in the past.
Al Shabaab fighters have long maintained that the 2,000-strong AU peacekeeping force is assisting the Ethiopian army's "massacre" of civilians in Mogadishu.
The group's spokesman reiterated the position that there is "no difference" between Ethiopian soldiers and peacekeepers serving in Mogadishu under the auspices of the African Union.
The Somali capital has seen little respite from hit-and-run attacks, roadside bombings and assassinations since January 2007 when Ethiopian troops helped the weak transitional government overpower Islamists who ruled Mogadishu at the time.
But suicide bombings remain an anomaly in the Horn of Africa nation, although both interim President Abdullahi Yusuf and former Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi survived suicide attacks in the past.
Source: Garowe Online