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6 Injured in Somali Airport Explosion

  • Mohamed Olad

Police in central Somalia say at least six people including two African Union soldiers were injured Monday in an explosion at an airport in the city of Beledweyne.

In an interview with VOA Somali, Beledweyne police commander Colonel Ali Dhuh Abdi said an explosion occurred at the entrance of the airport, while security forces thwarted others.

“A laptop packed with explosives exploded at the front gate of the airport, as the security officers were trying to inspect a car carrying the device, injuring four Somalis and two Djiboutian African Union peacekeepers,” Abdi told VOA.

He said the security officials immediately discovered another bomb.

“Following the explosion we immediately launched a security operation to ensure that all passengers at the airport were safe and fortunately we found a printer, which had a bomb implanted,” Abdi said.

Abdi said police arrested 20 suspects in connection with today’s explosion.

He said the explosion had the hallmarks of another incident last month when a blast occurred inside a Daallo airline flight bound for Djibouti. In that explosion, a passenger believed to be the bomber fell out the hole created by the blast and died.

Militant group Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for that attack. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the Beledweyne explosion.

Weapons Found on Somalia-Bound Vessel

Meanwhile, an Australian Navy ship has seized a huge cache of weapons near Oman's coast from a fishing vessel bound for Somalia.

The Australian navy, which patrols waters around the Indian Ocean as part of an international maritime force, said it had seized nearly 2,000 AK-47 rifles, 100 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 49 PKM machine guns, 39 PKM spare barrels and 20 mortar tubes from the fishing vessel.

"The weapons were seized under United Nations sanctions, which authorize interdiction on the high seas of illicit weapons destined for Somalia," the navy said Monday.

The navy said personnel from the HMAS Darwin had boarded the fishing vessel about 310 kilometers off the coast of Oman to verify which flag it was sailing under, and determined that it was stateless.

A Somali government security official were not ready to comment on the Australian Navy statement.

The United Nations has a decades-long arms embargo in place against Somalia, which has been mired in conflict since civil war broke out in 1991.

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