MOGADISHU, Somalia, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- Gunmen and suicide bombers tied to al-Qaida killed nine people at Mogadishu's airport Thursday shortly after envoys met the Somali president, officials said.
Two of the dead were intergovernmental African Union peacekeepers leaving the country with high-level U.N. delegates, all of whom had just met with Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, an AU representative said.
None of the U.N. delegates was injured, U.N. officials said.
Other dead include several civilians, including two women, and five bombers, witnesses said.
Three soldiers at the airport gate were wounded, Somali Maj. Berigye Bohuko told CNN.
The militant al-Shabaab Islamic movement, which declared its alliance with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network Feb. 1, claimed responsibility for the attack and praised its fighters for what Shabaab called a holy war against Somalia's Western-backed government, which it considers an "enemy of Islam."
Shabaab has been waging an offensive to coincide with Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting that ends this week. In the past two weeks more than 230 people were killed, including several government lawmakers, a U.N. report said.
Somalia's government "is committed to resisting the destabilization campaigns of Shabaab extremists," a statement from Ahmed's office said after the attack without mentioning the attack.
The U.N.-AU delegation met with Ahmed to smooth relations between him and Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, who Ahmed tried to oust in May but backed down from after failing to win support from Somalia's Parliament.
The rift between the two has all but paralyzed Somalia's transitional government, the BBC said.