Seven die in Somalia airport car bomb attack

Seven people were killed when a suicide car bomber and gunmen attacked Somalia's main airport today.

The attack in Mogadishu was the latest in a surge of assaults by Islamist insurgents, who last month declared a new effort to oust the country's weak government.

The assault took place about 40 minutes after Somalia's president flew out of the country.

After the car bomb exploded, a second vehicle full of militants opened fire at African Union and Somali security forces, said police.

A spokesman said there were several dead bodies of insurgents lying in front of the airport.

Two soldiers with the African Union force and four Somali police officers were killed, said Major Barigye Bahoku, the spokesman for the AU force. One Somali civilian was also killed, he said.

Vehicles from the African Union blocked the car bomb attacker from gaining entry into the airport, said an official.

The 7,000-man AU force guards the airport and presidential palace and prevents the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab from overthrowing Somalia's government.

No group immediately claimed responsibility, but the attack was likely to have been the work of al-Shabab.

Late last month al-Shabab militants stormed a Mogadishu hotel favoured by politicians and killed 32 people.

In July, al-Shabab masterminded twin bombings in Uganda's capital during the World Cup final, attacks that killed 76 people.

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