Mogadishu, Feb 11, 2016 (AFP) – Insurgents in Mogadishu fired “several” rounds of mortar shells targeting the Somali capital’s airport, witnesses said Thursday. Heavy explosions could be heard overnight Wednesday by residents in neighbourhoods close to the airport, with official sources there confirming the attack. There were no confirmed reports of any casualties, but some flights were reportedly cancelled on Thursday morning. Mogadishu airport is heavily fortified and adjoins the capital’s main base of the African Union mission to Somalia, the 22,000-strong force backing the government in the battle against Islamist Shebab insurgents.
The base also houses United Nations offices, aid agencies, foreign embassies and diplomatic missions. “There was a mortar attack against the airport last night, several rounds of mortar shells landed,” said Bashir Hussein, who lives close to the airport. Mohamed Abdalla, another witness, confirmed there were several loud explosions.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents have carried out a string of similar bombings in the past. Investigations continue into a bomb blast on a Somali passenger plane on February 2. The explosion ripped a hole in the fuselage of a Daallo Airlines plane shortly after it took off from Somalia’s main airport, killing the suspected bomber and forcing an emergency landing. The blast punched a one-metre (three-foot) hole in the side of the Airbus A321 about 15 minutes after it had taken off from Mogadishu. At least 15 people have been arrested in connection with the airplane attack.
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