MOGADISHU, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- At least six people are confirmed dead and more than 16 others wounded after a carbomb exploded outside the main gate of the Mogadishu airport, Somali medical officials said Thursday.
The UN office in the Horn of Africa country said in a statement four of its security guards were among the injured. The office confirmed the car bomb "exploded close to a convoy of UN vehicles. "
"The UN in Somalia strongly condemns the attack and expresses deep sorrow at the reported deaths and injuries of Somali bystanders. A UN car was damaged but no UN staff were injured. Four security escorts were lightly injured," UN envoy to Somalia Nicolas Kay said in a statement.
Chief of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Mahamat Saleh Annadif strongly deplored the deadly carbomb attack near the Mogadishu airport.
A car laden with explosives was remotely detonated as other vehicles passed outside the gate of the Mogadishu International Airport.
"I send my heartfelt condolence to the bereaved friends and families and join the Somali people in unequivocally condemning this craven attack which is a classical display of Al-Shabaab's faltering capabilities," said Annadif.
The AMISOM chief called on Somalis to join hands with the security forces in countering Al-Shabaab's activities.
"Around 1240 HRS, a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) went off outside the restaurant located next to the Aden Abdulle International Airport injuring and killing innocent civilian passersby," AMISOM said in a statement.
"The carbomb went off as another vehicle were moving to the airport. Five people including at least one airport guard was killed and seven other people mostly civilians were injured," police officer Mohamoud Omar at the airport told Xinhua earlier.
Local media reports put the number of the dead at five to seven, while hospital officials say the death toll may rise due to the severity of some of the injured.
The Al-Qaida linked group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack soon after the blast. The group said the target of the attack was "Western officials," a claim that cannot be independently confirmed.
Al-Shabaab has recently increased it attacks on Somali government targets and AMISOM.
The militant group launched twin attacks on Monday in the capital Mogadishu, killing two persons and injuring six others.
The upsurge in attacks come as Somali government forces and AMISOM troops prepare for a major offensive to oust the rebels out of the area they still control in the south and center of the war- torn nation.