A suicide bombing near the Somali capital of Mogadishu killed at least five people including two Turks, the Turkish health minister said.
Abdiasis Abu Musab, military operation spokesman for the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab, said the armed group was behind the attack on Saturday.
The Somalia-based group often targets the Somali capital Mogadishu with suicide bombings and other attacks, and it has exploded bombs against the Turkish military and other targets there in the past.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted that 14 people, including three Turks, were wounded and are being treated in a Mogadishu hospital named after Turkey’s president. He did not give the nationalities of the other three people who died.
“We strongly condemn this heinous attack targeting the employees of a Turkish company that undertook the Mogadishu-Afgoye road construction and contributes to the development and prosperity of Somalia,” a foreign ministry statement said.
Turkish security sources said the suicide attacker used a motorcycle. They said the attack took place 15km (8 miles) away from a Turkish military base, which was not affected. The base is Turkey’s largest military installation abroad.
Somali government officials did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment. The attack occurred outside the capital, Mogadishu, according to residents in the area of the blast.
Turkey has been a key source of aid to Somalia following a famine in 2011 as Ankara seeks to increase its influence in the Horn of Africa to counter Gulf rivals like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Last January, Somalia’s al-Shabab took responsibility for a car bombing that wounded at least 15 people in Afgoye, with those injured comprising Turkish contractors as well as Somali nationals.
A group of Turkish engineers was also among those hit in late December 2019 in a blast at a checkpoint in Mogadishu that killed at least 90 people.
In recent years, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has become a close ally of the Somali government.
Ankara has built schools, hospitals and infrastructure and provided scholarships for Somalis to study in Turkey. In 2017, Turkey opened its biggest overseas military base in Mogadishu.
However, that alliance has inserted Somalia into the centre of a regional struggle between Saudi Arabia and the UAE on one side and Qatar backed by Turkey on the other.
Al-Shabab frequently carries out bombings to try to undermine Somalia’s central government, which is backed by the United Nations and African Union peacekeeping troops.