MOGADISHU - The militant group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on a United Nations bus in northern Somalia that killed at least seven people.
The United Nations Children's Fund says four of its workers have been killed and another four are in serious condition after an attack on their vehicle in Garowe, in the Puntland region of Somalia.
The early morning attack Monday targeted a minibus ferrying UNICEF employees from their guesthouse to the local U.N. compound, normally a three-minute drive.
Authorities in Puntland say at least seven people lost their lives and seven others were injured in the attack claimed by the al-Shabab militant group.
Ahmed Abdullahi Samatar, chief of Police for Nugaal region, said there were seven deaths in total, four of them foreigners, two Somalis and the seventh person is the suicide bomber, who is being investigated. He says there were seven injured, five of them Somalis and two foreigners.
Al-Shabab has been targeting so-called soft targets in Somalia and beyond, after the Somali army and African Union forces dislodged it from the towns and cities it controlled.
The U.N. envoy to Somalia, Nicholas Kay, released a statement expressing his shock at the events in Garowe, and said this is a clear sign of the complete disregard for the lives of people working for Somalia's humanitarian and development needs.
Kay added U.N. colleagues are saddened, but unified in the face of this tragedy and determined to stand by the people of Somalia.
Al-Shabab still a deadly threat
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who is in Jordan attending a security summit on ending extremism in East Africa, condemned the attack and said "by attacking UNICEF, al-Shabab has also attacked Somali children."
Despite losing most of its territory, al-Shabab remains a potent threat to the Somali government and its partners. The group killed six Somali members of parliament last year and launched two deadly assaults on the presidential palace.
Earlier this month, al-Shabab staged an attack on Kenya's Garissa University College, killing 148 people. Al-Shabab said that attack was revenge for Kenyan military action in neighboring Somalia.
Somalia's government has placed bounties on the heads of 11 al-Shabab leaders, including the militant group's top leader and the alleged mastermind of the massacre in Kenya, Mohamed Mohamud, also known as Dulyadin.