Two foreign UN workers shot dead in central Somalia: officials

MOGADISHU: Two foreign UN workers, one of them a Briton, were shot dead on Monday at an airport in Galkayo, central Somalia, officials and witnesses said.

A United Nations source confirmed the two men were international staff members with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

“Two white men have been shot inside the airport as they got off a plane,”local security official Mohamed Mire said. An airport official said the attacker was dressed in a police uniform.

“One of them died inside the airport and the other one was rushed to hospital where he later died of the injuries. Both of them were white men,” said witness Hassan Ahmed.

Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed that one of the two victims was a Briton.

“We are aware of the death of a British national in Somalia on 7 April. We stand ready to provide consular assistance to the family at this difficult time,” a spokesman said.

The two staffers had reportedly flown into Galkayo to meet with Somali officials on the issue of regulating the money transfer services that replace a formal banking system in Somalia.

Some accounts from the airport said the two had been shot close to the immigration office and the killing seemed to be a targeted assassination carried out by two assailants.

Other accounts said the two were shot by one policeman who appeared to be mentally disturbed. It was not clear whether anyone has been apprehended and the Puntland authorities are yet to comment.

Galkayo is situated 575 kilometres north of the capital Mogadishu and lies on the border with the northern breakaway state of Puntland.

UN security in Galkayo, which is outside of effective central government control, is normally extremely tight.

In Puntland UNODC efforts to combat piracy have included the construction of a new prison in the state capital Garowe. The prison takes in pirates who have been sentenced in other countries in the region, notably the Seychelles.