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Mortar fire hits Somali airport zone, wounds nine

By AFP - Oct 13,2019 - Last updated at Oct 13,2019

Hundreds of newly trained Al Shabaab fighters perform military exercises in October 2017 (AFP photo)

MOGASHU — Mortar fire on the zone around Mogadishu airport wounded nine people on Sunday, including staff at the African Union and UN missions located there, Somali police and UN sources said.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the Sunday afternoon assault, but the Islamist militant group Al Shabaab has carried out similar attacks during more than ten years of fighting.

"Several rounds of mortar shells landed within the vicinity of the airport," police officer Mohamed Hassan told AFP.

While the police had no details on casualties, a UN source who asked not to be named said nine people had been injured but none seriously.

The injured were three soldiers from the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), one civilian AMISOM worker, a UN mission staff member and four UN contract workers, the source added.

UN special representative for Somalia, James Swan, in a statement confirmed the attack had injured several people without giving further details.

"There is no justification for such despicable acts of violence, and the United Nations remains determined to support Somalia on its path to peace," the statement said.

Witnesses inside the AMISOM told AFP the attack provoked panic at the base.

One witness, Abdulahi Hassan, said: "Around three rounds of mortar shells struck close to the AMISOM hospital and the UN compound, three soldiers and several UN contractors were wounded."

The high-security zone around Mogadishu international airport houses not just international organisations but a number of embassies.

Al Qaeda affiliate Al Shabaab has been fighting for more than a decade to overthrow successive internationally backed governments in Mogadishu.

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