Bomb explodes near Turkish delegation in Somalia day before president's visit

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 22, 2015 7:18 AM

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - A suicide car bomb exploded at the gate of a Mogadishu hotel where Turkish delegates were meeting on Thursday, a day ahead of a visit by their President Tayyip Erdogan to the Somali capital, police said.

"The Turkish delegates are safe inside the hotel," police captain Farah Nur told Reuters. "The hotel was busy."

A Reuters witness saw two police officers lying dead in front of the destroyed gate, and what appeared to be the mangled body of the suicide bomber.

In Ankara, Turkish officials said there were no casualties among the Turkish delegation and Erdogan's visit would go ahead.

Mogadishu is the frequent target of car bombs, and the city has been under heavy security ahead of Erdogan's visit.

Erdogan became the first non-African leader to visit wartorn Somalia in nearly 20 years when he traveled there in 2011, as Turkey's prime minister.

Turkey is a key ally of the Somali government. It was a major contributor to the humanitarian aid effort at the height of the 2011 famine and Ankara continues to build hospitals and dispatch aid across Somalia.

(Reporting by Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar; additional reporting by Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara; writing by Edith Honan; editing by Andrew Roche)