The United Nations top envoy in Somalia on Sunday condemned a suicide car bombing at the Mogadishu seaport, which left at least 16 people dead and several others injured.
Michael Keating, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, expressed shock at the numerous civilian deaths caused by the bombing, of which the Al-Shabaab terror group has claimed responsibility.
“This latest atrocity by Al-Shabaab militants, taking place on a religious holiday, provides fresh evidence of their disregard for the lives and hopes of Somali citizens,” Keating said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.
“The bombing may be intended to signal Al-Shabaab’s rejection of the 2016 electoral process,” he said, pledging not to let terrorism stop the momentum.
A spokesman for the militant group told media that Al-Shabaab had targeted security personnel assigned to the seaport facility as they “had been trained to provide security for so-called elections.”
The group said the attack, carried out by a bomber in a minibus packed with explosives, killed 30 Somali police officers.
Most of the victims, however, turned out to be truck drivers and port workers who were having tea in tea kiosks when the bomb went off on Sunday morning.
Keating praised the essential role Somali and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) security forces have played in protecting electoral sites around the country while recognizing that security in Mogadishu remains the greatest challenge.
Most of the voting for the House of the People has now been completed, with 226 of the 275 seats occupied and nearly all remaining seats expected to be filled in the coming week.
Somalia’s National Leadership Forum has decided to hold the presidential election by the end of December.