By UN News
Top United Nations officials have strongly condemned today’s suicide bombing at a government ministry building in the capital, Mogadishu, that killed scores of people and injured many more.
Media reports indicate at least 70 people have died and dozens of others sustained injuries as a result of the blast. The explosion occurred when a truck bomb detonated at a complex belonging to the country’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in the south of the city.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he is “appalled” by the attack, whose victims reportedly included students who were inside the education ministry at the time of the bombing.
“It is incomprehensible that innocents are being senselessly targeted,” a statement issued by his spokesperson said, reiterating the Secretary-General’s call to all Somali parties to renounce violence and engage in dialogue and reconciliation.
The attack is “all the more abhorrent,” the statement added, coming at a time when Somali political leaders have been working together to chart a peaceful political future for Somalia.
Augustine Mahiga, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and the head of the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), issued a statement voicing his deep sadness at the “senseless and cowardly” bombing.
“These actions are unacceptable. The murder of ordinary Somalis cannot be justified for any reason,” he said.
Also condemning the attack was Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, who called the killing of children an “unspeakable crime.”
“Children in Somalia suffer daily through war and famine. Those killed and wounded were bravely attempting to further their education despite the situation in Mogadishu,” she said in a statement.
The Islamist militant group known as Al-Shabaab, whose fighters withdrew from Mogadishu in August, has reportedly claimed responsibility for today’s attack.
“Although the extremists have left the capital, it is very difficult to prevent these types of terrorist attacks, which we have consistently warned are likely to be on the increase,” Mr. Mahiga noted.
The Special Representative also condemned other recent raids or attacks carried out by Al-Shabaab, including a raid on Dhusamareb in central Somalia last night and an attack on Dhobley, close to the border with Kenya.
He stressed the need to both strengthen Somalia’s national security forces and provide sufficient resources to support the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in the Horn of Africa nation (AMISOM).
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today it is especially worried about the fighting and worsening situation around Dhobley, which is the main transit point for Somalis en route to Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camps.
“We particularly fear for the well-being and safety of displaced Somalis who are likely to get caught in fighting while fleeing through this part of the country,” Adrian Edwards, UNHCR’s spokesperson in Geneva, told reporters.
The agency added that the latest escalation of violence in southern Somalia is further exacerbating the already severe humanitarian situation in the country. “We urge all armed groups and forces in Somalia to avoid targeting civilian areas and to ensure that civilians are not being placed in harm’s way,” said Mr. Edwards.