Suicide bombers set off at least two explosions at a popular restaurant in the capital on Thursday, killing at least a dozen people, including journalists and police officers, according to media reports.
The attacks, which were condemned as “cowardly and senseless” by the top United Nations envoy in Somalia, come in the wake of a series of landmark steps over recent weeks helping bring an end to the Horn of Africa nation’s eight-year political transition period.
“After Somalia has taken such an important step in completing the transition, it is deplorable that ordinary Somalis have again been targeted by those who do not wish to see a more peaceful Somalia,” the 15-member body said in a statement issued to the press.
“The members of the Council underline their resolve to support Somalia in its efforts for peace and reconciliation,” it added.
Council members also extended their condolences to the victims and their families, the newly-inaugurated President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, and the people of Somalia.
Also today, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it is closely following the situation around the Somali port city of Kismayo as thousands of residents flee in anticipation of military activities and new clashes.
So far this month, more than 10,000 people have fled from Kismayo fearing the resumption of fighting, a UNHCR spokesperson, Adrian Edwards, told reporters in Geneva. Movements substantially increased on Monday and have been continuing since, and some 7,500 people fled the area in the past four days amid growing tension.
The majority of those displaced are heading to villages in other parts of Kismayo district as well as villages in the neighbouring Jilib and Jamame districts. Some are also moving towards Mogadishu and Dadaab refugee camps.
“According to our partners on the ground, most of those fleeing Kismayo say that they are planning to return as soon as the situation stabilizes,” said Mr. Edwards. “There are reports of sporadic militia attacks and looting. The displaced also fear being caught in the crossfire and possible reprisal attacks by armed groups operating in the town.”
Despite recent advances in Somalia’s peace and national reconciliation process, after decades of warfare, the country is still dealing with the impact of the Al-Shabaab militant group, which has been pushed out of Mogadishu but still controls some areas, primarily in south-central regions, including Kismayo.
Earlier this week, Kenyan military troops serving with the UN-backed African Union force in Somalia (AMISOM) assured the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, that they will endeavour to reduce the potential of civilians being hurt during their operation in Kismayo.