MOGADISHU – At least eight people were killed on Tuesday when two huge bombs went off near Mogadishu's airport, including one close to the UN's political office in the Somali capital, a security source told AFP.
An AFP journalist at the scene heard gunfire after the explosions tore through the area, one of which was believed to be a car bomb.
The city's airport is heavily fortified and adjoins the capital's main base for the AU mission to Somalia, the 22,000-strong force backing the government in the battle against Shabaab insurgents.
The jihadists were chased out of Mogadishu in 2011 but remain a serious threat in both Somalia and neighbouring Kenya, where they carry out frequent attacks.
Reuters reports that two suicide attackers set off bombs outside the AU's main peacekeeping base in Mogadishu near the airport.
The first detonated a car bomb and the second tried to storm the base on foot, but was shot and exploded at the gate, officers added.
"AU forces sealed the area. There were many Somalis outside the gate and there were AU forces at the gate – we have not yet confirmed the casualty figure," police officer Major Nur Osman told Reuters.
The Islamist al-Shabaab militant group claimed responsibility for the attacks. It has launched a string of assaults in the capital and beyond in its campaign to topple the Western-backed government. – Additional reporting by Reuters