Skip to main content

Al Qaeda blamed for Somali bombing wave

  • Story Highlights
  • At least 56 dead as explosions tear through Somali cities
  • Powerful car bomb targets U.N. compound in breakaway republic
  • Anti-terror officers targeted in port city of Bossaso
  • Next Article in World »
  • Read
  • MAP
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

(CNN) -- A string of suicide bombings targeting government buildings and a United Nations compound in Somalia left at least 25 people dead Wednesday in attacks a U.S. official said bore hallmarks of the al Qaeda terror network.

Several U.N. employees were among the dead after three car bombers attacked U.N. offices, the Ethiopian consulate -- where dozens were lining up for visas -- and a presidential palace in Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland.

About the same time, suicide bombers struck anti-terror police in the port city of Bossaso killing at least six people, including four of the officers, a local journalist who witnessed the aftermath said.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer said Wednesday's attacks in Somalia "have the markings of an al Qaeda attack."

Gen. Ade Muse, the leader of Puntland state -- a semi-autonomous region of northern Somalia where Bossasso is located -- said his government has knew who was behind the attack and planned to release photos of suspects.

Somalia, which has been without a central government since 1991, is in the throes of an Islamic insurgency led by militant group Al Shabaab, which the United States says has links to al Qaeda. Al Shaabab is trying to gain control of the country and oust Ethiopian troops backing forces loyal to Somalia's transitional government.

Wednesday's trio of suicide car bombings in Hargeisa was a rare and apparently coordinated attack in relatively peaceful Somaliland, an autonomous region of northern Somalia.

Somaliland President Dahir Rayale Kahin said 19 people were killed in the three attacks in Hargeisa, including his personal secretary. Earlier, a hospital nurse in Hargeisa put the death toll at 50.

Those killed include two U.N. staff members who died when a suicide car bomber was able to penetrate two security rings at the U.N. Development Program's compound in Hargeisa before detonating, a U.N. spokeswoman in Nairobi, Kenya, told CNN.

Eight other staffers were wounded -- two critically and six seriously, according to a U.N. statement.

"It got quite far into the compound when it exploded," said spokeswoman Dawn Elizabeth Blalock. "One two-story building, the side has collapsed and several other one-story buildings, the roofs have collapsed."

Inside the compound are about five buildings that house various U.N. agencies, including the UNDP, she said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement denouncing the attack which "deliberately (targeted) innocent civilians and United Nations personnel who work tirelessly to alleviate the dire suffering of Somali citizens."


Ethiopia's consulate and the presidential palace in Hargeisa were also attacked, according to Kahin, who said the bombings constituted a strike on "the nationhood of Somaliland."

"We will do everything to know who is behind the attack," Kahin told reporters.

CNN's David McKenzie and journalist Mohamed Amiin Adow contributed to this story

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print