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Somali troops foil seaport suicide attack: police

Sunday, September 12, 2010

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somali police said they had foiled a suicide attack by Islamist rebels on the seaport in the capital Mogadishu on Saturday, two days after a bomb attack on the city's airport.

Abdullahi Abdi, a police officer based at the port, said the driver of a petrol tanker was forced by a gunman to speed through a checkpoint at the port's entrance and government troops opened fire.

He said the security forces blew out the tanker's tyres before arresting the wounded driver and the gunman who was found with explosives in a black bag.

"This was a clear potential suicide attack. He wanted to ram the tanker into the seaport and blow his explosives, Abdi told Reuters. A porter at the port confirmed the incident.

The petrol truck was reported to be empty at the time of the attack.

Police said the driver told them his truck was hijacked as he drove towards the port, a crucial entry point for food and fuel into Somalia.

On Thursday, al Shabaab rebels killed two African Union peacekeepers and at least three civilians outside the city's airport in a suicide attack, amid government warnings the militants could launch a spectacular attack to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The rebels have used suicide bombers to devastating effect over the past two years, killing five government ministers and dozens of AU peacekeeping troops. Al Shabaab was also behind attacks in Uganda in July that killed at least 79 people.

About 7,200 AU peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi are deployed in Mogadishu and focus on guarding the airport and seaport and shielding President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed from the militants.

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