Deaths as suicide bomber detonates in Mogadishu, mayor badly wounded

Medical workers help civilian on stretcher who was wounded in suicide bomb, at Madina hospital, Mogadishu, Wednesday, July 24, 2019. A suicide bomber walked into the office of Mogadishu's mayor and detonated explosives strapped to his waist, killing several people and badly wounding the mayor. (AP)
Updated 24 July 2019

Deaths as suicide bomber detonates in Mogadishu, mayor badly wounded

  • The attack occurred shortly after the new United Nations envoy to Somalia visited mayor
  • Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab extremist group claimed responsibility

MOGADISHU: A suicide bomber walked into the office of Mogadishu’s mayor and detonated explosives strapped to his waist, killing six people and badly wounding the mayor, Somali police said Wednesday.

The attack occurred shortly after the new United Nations envoy to Somalia, James Swan, had paid the mayor a “courtesy call” and left the compound, an official at the mayor’s office. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The UN mission in Somalia in a tweet before the bombing posted photos of the smiling mayor and new envoy, saying Swan had received an overview of the “challenges” in the region.

The Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab extremist group claimed responsibility. It often targets government buildings such as the presidential palace and other high-profile parts of Mogadishu with bombings.

"We conducted a successful operation in Mogadishu this afternoon. The target was the newly appointed U.N. envoy to Somalia and other senior enemy members. Some of them were eliminated, others wounded," Al-Shabab spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab said in a statement.

------

READ MORE: ‘Malign state’ Qatar condemned for collusion in Somalia terrorism

------

The mayor, Abdirahman Omar Osman, and his deputy were rushed to a hospital with critical wounds and two district commissioners were among the dead, said police Capt. Mohamed Hussein.

It was not clear how the bomber managed to enter the mayor’s office during a security meeting. Some security officials said the attacker might have coordinated with corrupt officials, offering them bribes for access.

The security officials said Wednesday’s attack appeared to be a shift in tactics, as the extremists in the past had rarely managed to infiltrate heavily fortified government buildings without first detonating one or more vehicle bombs.

The Somalia-based Al-Shabab was chased out of Mogadishu years ago but still controls parts of the Horn of Africa nation’s south and central regions and is a frequent target of US airstrikes.

"A suicide bomber walked into the meeting hall and blew up himself," said Mohamed Abdullahi, a relative of one of the victims, told Reuters. The area was filled with ambulances after the blast, shopkeeper Mohamed Osman said.

The Horn of Africa country has been riven by conflict since 1991, when clan warlords overthrew a dictator, then turned on each other. 


Greece moves more migrants to mainland as arrivals increase

Updated 22 October 2019

Greece moves more migrants to mainland as arrivals increase

  • Some 697 migrants and refugees arrived in the port of Elefsina near Athens from the island of Samos
  • Greece is struggling with the biggest resurgence in refugee and migrant flows across the Aegean Sea from Turkey since 2015

ATHENS: Authorities in Greece moved more asylum-seekers to the mainland on Tuesday as part of a strategy to reduce the refugee population on outlying islands after an increase in arrivals in recent months.

Some 697 migrants and refugees arrived in the port of Elefsina near Athens from the island of Samos, officials said. Earlier, 120 people arrived from Lesbos.

Greece is struggling with the biggest resurgence in refugee and migrant flows across the Aegean Sea from Turkey since 2015, when more than a million crossed into Europe, many of them via Greece.

The islands, which are closest to Turkey, have been struggling under the influx, with some 33,700 refugees and migrants in overcrowded camps, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.

In late September, a woman died in a fire in a tent in a camp on Lesbos, while another fire in a severely overcrowded camp in Samos forced hundreds of people into the streets this month.

“Our focus was mainly on Samos because we want things there to calm down,” migration ministry secretary Manos Logothetis told Reuters.

More than 12,000 people arrived in Greece in September, the highest level in the three-and-a-half years since the EU agreed a deal with Turkey to seal the Aegean corridor to Europe.

Logothetis said up to 300 more people would be leaving Samos this week, and up to 2,000 from all outlying islands next week. Greece aims to move up to 20,000 off the islands by the end of the year, he said.

Athens has announced a stricter migration policy to deal with the crisis, including plans to deport 10,000 people who do not qualify for asylum by the end of next year.