NAIROBI, Kenya -- A suicide bomber detonated inside a Turkish military training base in Somalia's capital and killed two people, police said Tuesday.
It was the first time Turkey's largest overseas military base has been attacked by the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group. The Somalia-based group quickly claimed responsibility, according to its Radio al-Furqan affiliate.
Police Capt. Mohamed Hussein said the attack occurred as new military cadets were doing their morning drills. Col. Ahmednor Abdulle, a Somali military officer, said authorities were investigating how the bomber managed to sneak into the base.
The Turkish Defense Ministry in a statement said a Somali citizen was killed and one other person was wounded. It said no Turkish personnel were hurt and there was no damage to the barracks.
The ministry condemned the “terrorist organization and its supporters who carried out this cowardly attack” and added: “We will not leave our Somali brothers alone in their fight against terrorist organizations.”
Turkey has a significant presence in Somalia and operates one of a number of foreign military training operations in the Horn of Africa nation long destabilized by conflict.
The Turkish-run Anadolu Agency quoted the Turkish ambassador to Somalia, Mehmet Yilmaz, as saying the attack was foiled at the last minute by guards who noticed the assailant and shot him. It said the incident occurred during an event to recruit students to the base’s training program.
“According to the initial information, the assailant left the crowd and tried to enter (the base). He was shot after he failed to abide by the Somali soldiers’ order to stop,” Yilmaz said. “There was an explosion."
Speaking on state-run radio, Somali army chief Gen. Odowa Yusuf Rage also said security forces shot dead the bomber outside the main gate — contradicting the accounts of other local security officials.
Al-Shabab controls parts of southern and central Somalia and often targets the capital with suicide bombings.
Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey contributed.