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Death Toll Rises in Mogadishu Airport Attack


Somali police officers walk past bodies of two civilians who were killed during a suicide-bomb attack targeting Mogadishu international airport, 09 Sep 2010

Somali police officers walk past bodies of two civilians who were killed during a suicide-bomb attack targeting Mogadishu international airport, 09 Sep 2010

Authorities said at least nine people were killed Thursday when suicide bombers in Somalia attacked Mogadishu's airport.

A spokesman for the African Union said two members of its peacekeeping force are among the dead. He said there were at least four attackers, all of whom were also killed.

Somali insurgent group al-Shabab claimed responsibility, saying it was targeting an international delegation at the airport.

Officials said Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was meeting the delegation led by the United Nations special representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, Thursday about the time of the attack. The officials flew safely to Kenya.

Al-Shabab recently declared a stepped-up campaign to overthrow Somalia's government and impose a strict form of Islamic law in the country.

Somalia's transitional government warned earlier this week that al-Shabab was likely to stage an attack to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Witnesses said two vehicles approached the airport's main gate where African Union peacekeepers are stationed. One car exploded. Several men jumped out of the second car and began firing.

Witnesses said at least two of the gunmen - wearing government military uniforms - broke through the gate and came within 200 meters of the terminal building before being stopped. They said that is when they detonated explosive vests.

Somalia's transitional government controls small sections of Mogadishu, with the help of the AU peacekeepers. Islamist militants control most of the capital and large parts of southern and central Somalia.

Last week, the African Union expressed confidence that government troops and AU peacekeepers were gaining the upper hand over al-Shabab.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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