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Turkish aid worker killed in attack in Somalia

by Laacib

A Turkish aid worker was killed Thursday in Somalia in an attack claimed by the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Shabab militant group.

The attack took place on the outskirts of Mogadishu as vehicles carrying Turkish and Somali aid workers and their security guards were heading toward a displaced persons camp to deliver food aid.

Witnesses and police said a roadside explosion hit one of the vehicles, killing two people – a Turkish worker and a Somali colleague.

In a post on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, the Verenel Association, the Turkish aid agency delivering the food, confirmed that its Somalia representative, Abdurrahim Yörük, was killed in the attack.

“Brother [Abdurrahim Yörük] was martyred in the bomb attack carried out at 11:30 on 4.04.2024, targeting the team of our Verenel Association, which carries out its work in Somalia within the scope of Humanitarian Aid Activities,” the post said.

A spokesperson for Somali police, Major Abdifatah Aden Hassan, condemned the attack and said the aid workers targeted were delivering food to needy people fasting during Ramadan.

“To target defenseless people who came to assist the Somalis with a landmine shows the brutality of the Khawarij [militants],” Hassan told journalists in Mogadishu. “Khawarij,” which means “a deviation from Islam,” is a term Somali government officials sometimes use to describe al-Shabab.

Turkey has been a major partner of Somalia since 2011 when then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Somalia at the height of a deadly famine. Since then, Turkey has been helping Somalia with humanitarian assistance and budgetary support.

Al-Shabab, which opposes Turkish support of the Somali government, has carried out multiple attacks that claimed the lives of Turkish nationals conducting civilian work in Somalia.

In one al-Shabab attack, on December 28, 2019, two Turkish engineers working on a road construction project were among at least 80 people killed in a truck bomb.

The attacks did not hamper relations between Turkey and Somalia. This February, Somalia and Turkey announced signing the Defense and Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, which was widely celebrated in Somalia.

Under the agreement, Turkey will build, train and equip the Somali navy, according to Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre, who described Turkey as a “true and reliable brother.”

Last month, the two countries signed a deal to explore for oil and gas that further strengthens cooperation, according to officials from both countries.

Al-Shabab, in a statement, rejected the defense and economic cooperation agreement, calling it “unlawful.”


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