One Ugandan is confirmed dead following Monday’s Al-Shabaab attack on a UN bus in Garowe, Somalia.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Communication Specialist Catherine Ntabadde confirmed on Tuesday that Brenda Kyeyune, a Ugandan national, working in the Fund’s communication department was among seven people killed in the attack when Al-Shabaab set off a huge bomb which ripped through a staff bus in the northeastern town of Garowe.
Kyeyune had managed social mobilization and communication initiatives in support of polio eradication in Somalia since 2014.
Others killed in the attack include Woki Munyui, Stephen Oduor (both Kenyans) and Payenda Gul Abed, an Afghan national.
Meanwhile, UNICEF said it is still studying the situation in Somalia before it makes a decision on whether or not to withdraw its services.
UNICEF regional Chief of Communication James Elder said they are constantly monitoring the security situation in the areas where its staff is working and security experts are currently in Garowe and will assess the situation.
"Five other UNICEF colleagues are being treated for injuries sustained in the attack, and we hope for their speedy recovery. Two local security personnel, unrelated to UNICEF, were also killed as a result of the attack, and four others injured," he said in a statement.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned what he said was a "barbaric attack", saying a total of seven had been left dead and several others wounded.
"In attacking UNICEF, Al-Shabaab has also attacked Somali children," Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud also said. "It is an attack against the future of our country and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms."
Somalia's Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack, branding the United Nations a "colonisation force in Somalia".
The white minibus, marked with the blue UN logo, was ripped apart by a ferocious blast.
"The improvised explosive device attack occurred when the staff were travelling from their guest house to the office, normally a three-minute drive," UNICEF said in a statement.
It was not clear if the bomb had been detonated by a suicide attacker or planted on the bus.
Garowe, in the northeastern region of Somalia, is the capital of the semi-autonomous Puntland region.
'Total disregard for life'
Al-Shabaab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab confirmed the Islamist group had carried out the attack.
"We targeted the UN in Garowe, we killed some and wounded others. They are part of the colonisation force in Somalia," he told AFP.
The Al-Shabaab, meaning "youth", emerged out of a bitter insurgency against Ethiopia, whose troops entered Somalia in a 2006 US-backed invasion to topple the Islamic Courts Union that was then controlling the capital Mogadishu.
Al-Shabaab rebels continue to stage frequent attacks in their fight to overthrow Somalia's internationally-backed government, as well as to counter claims that they are close to defeat due to the loss of territory, regular US drone strikes against their leaders and defections.
They have also carried out revenge attacks across the wider region against countries which contribute troops to the 22,000-strong African Union force in Somalia, AMISOM.
Earlier this month, Al-Shabaab gunmen attacked Garissa university in northeastern Kenya, killing nearly 150 people, mostly students.
Attacks against the United Nations are also common. In December four people were killed when a suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into a UN convoy in the capital Mogadishu.
In June 2013, Al-Shabaab gunmen stormed a UN compound in the capital Mogadishu, killing 16.
Ban said UN operations in Somalia would continue.
"Such terrorist attacks will not erode the commitment of the whole United Nations family to supporting the people and government of Somalia in rebuilding peace and prosperity in their country," he said.
African Union envoy Maman Sidikou said killing those trying to help others was a "crime against humanity."
In other recent attacks Al-Shabaab gunmen shot dead a Puntland lawmaker, Adan Haji Hussein, on Saturday and on Sunday killed three African Union troops in an ambush in the south of the war-ravaged country.
While the Al-Shabaab emerged as a Somali Islamist group in 2006 in Mogadishu, they have recruited across the wider region.