At least seven people have been killed in an attack on a UN vehicle in Garowe, the capital of Puntland in northeastern Somalia, local security sources told Al Jazeera.
Four UNICEF staff members were among the dead and four other staff members were in a serious condition, the United Nations Children's Fund said in a statement on Monday.
Abdiwali Hirsi, Puntland's Information Minister, told Al Jazeera that two other victims were Somali security guards. The seventh victim was yet to be identified.
UNICEF said the attack occurred when the vehicle travelled from a guest house to the UN agency's office in Garowe in the autonomous Puntland region, adding that the UN was presently contacting families of the staff and airlifting the injured.
The victims were an integral part of UNICEF’s work in Somalia, "dedicated to improving the lives of others", the statement said.
Al-Shabab claims attack
Al-Shabab military operations spokesman Abulaziz Abu Mus'ab told Al Jazeera that his group was behind the attack.
"We carried out the attack in Garowe. We targeted our enemy the UN. We killed and injured many in the attack."
The bomb was apparently planted under a seat and was detonated by remote control, police officer Yusuf Ali told the Associated Press news agency.
Photos circulating on social media websites showed several bodies in the torn-up UN bus. The roof of the bus was ripped off by the explosion.
Bomb attacks are not common in the northern parts of Somalia, unlike in the south where al-Shabab is waging a deadly war against the Somali government and the African Union forces bolstering it.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies