14 killed in attack on UN headquarters in Somalia

Washington, June 19 (IANS) At least 14 people were killed and 15 others were wounded in an attack on the UN headquarters in the Somali capital of Mogadishu Wednesday, CNN reported.

Seven militants, four UN employees and three female civilians were killed, said Abdikarim Hussein Guled, the country's interior and national security minister.

The Al-Shabaab militant group linked to Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack.

One attacker blew himself up at the entrance of the UN compound, situated near the city's airport, police officer Hussein Ahmed told CNN.

Several others wearing suicide vests entered the compound following the suicide blast.

Somali and African Union forces later surrounded the building and fought with the armed assailants.

Heaps of disfigured and mangled buses and cars were seen, and many windows of nearby apartments shattered, and the ground was littered with blood and body parts.

The compound has now been secured and is in the hands of African Union troops, according to the official Twitter account of the African Union Mission to Somalia.

Xinhua put the toll at 15, saying eight people working for the UN were killed.

It quoted the Somali interior minister as saying that the eight people, including four foreigners, worked for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) office in Mogadishu.

Witnesses and medics said 13 civilians were injured.

Xinhua said the attackers used a car bomb which was detonated at the gate of the UNDP compound, before heavily armed fighters in military uniforms entered the building and exchanged gunfire with guards inside the premises.

The Somali government condemned the deadly attack.

Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon said the attack was "despicable".

"I condemn this senseless and despicable attack on innocent UN civilians this morning. The UN are our friends and partners, and the UN agencies offer us humanitarian help and support," Shirdon said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also expressed shock at the attack.

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