Two Turkish nationals were among four people killed Saturday in a suicide bombing outside the Somali capital Mogadishu claimed by the al-Shabaab militant group, officials said.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 14 others wounded in the blast, including three Turks, were being treated at a Turkish-run hospital in Mogadishu.
The attack targeted employees of a Turkish company building a road between Mogadishu and Afgoye, a town about 25 kilometers (15 miles) west of the capital, officials from both countries said.
“The number of our nationals who lost their lives in the terror attack in Somalia has increased to two,” Koca said, adding the lives of the wounded Turks were not in danger.
The two others killed in the assault were Somali special police, said Mohamed Ibrahim, a police officer in Afgoye.
He said security forces opened fire as the bomber tried to force his way into a construction site where work was underway.
“Unfortunately, he was already close to where people were gathered and detonated, inflicting casualties,” he said.
Al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda-linked extremist group waging a deadly insurgency against the foreign-backed government in Mogadishu, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Turkey is one of Somalia’s closest foreign partners and is among several nations training soldiers to take over from African peacekeeping force AMISOM, whose troops are set to leave the country this year after 14 years.
In June, two people were killed when a suicide bomber targeted a Turkish military training base in Mogadishu.
The bomber tried to conceal himself among young recruits who had gathered to enlist in the academy, which opened in 2017 and is among the largest foreign-run military center in Somalia.
Somalia plunged into chaos after the 1991 overthrow of president Siad Barre’s military regime, leading to years of clan warfare followed by the rise of al-Shabaab which once controlled large parts of the country and capital.
After being pushed out of their main bastions by AMISOM in 2011, al-Shabaab has continued to wage war against the government, with regular attacks in Mogadishu and against neighboring countries which have contributed to the force.
According to the Turkish foreign ministry website, the country’s largest embassy complex abroad is in Mogadishu and investments in the country total $100 million (88 million euros).
Turkish companies also run the Mogadishu international airport and seaport.