Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab rebels Wednesday identified a suicide car bomber who struck a town recently captured by African Union troops as a 60-year-old Somali man who held Norwegian citizenship.
The attack in Buulo Burde in the south of the country on Tuesday targeted a hotel crowded with army officers and was followed by an assault by Shebab gunmen, leaving several dead, officials said.
“The attacker of Buulo Burde was a 60-year-old man who came from Norway to fight the enemies of Allah,” Al-Shabaab military spokesman Sheikh Abdul Aziz Abu Musab said, naming the attacker as Abdullahi Ahmed Abdulle, a Norwegian national of Somali origin.
“He paid the sacrifice in order to be close to Allah by killing his enemies. The event is showing us that there is no age limit for jihad,” the spokesman said. Norway’s PST intelligence service said they were investigating the report.
“In general, we are seeing a growing number of people leave Norway to join militant Islamist groups,” PST spokesman Siv Alsen said.
The attack is the latest by the Shebab, launched in apparent retaliation for a new offensive to root them out of areas of the war-torn country still under their control.
African Union (AU) soldiers, who are fighting the Shebab alongside Somali government troops, captured the small town of Buulo Burde from the Islamists last week.
The UN-backed AU force this month launched a fresh offensive against Shebab bases, with the gunmen largely fleeing ahead of the assault, only to later stage guerrilla attacks.
Shebab fighters once controlled most of southern and central Somalia but withdrew from fixed positions in Mogadishu two years ago.
Recent Shebab attacks have targeted key areas of state or the security forces, in a bid to discredit claims by the authorities that they are winning.
A Norwegian citizen of Somali origin, 23-year-old Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow, is named in Kenyan court documents as being one of the four Shebab attackers who stormed Nairobi’s Westgate mall six months ago, in which at least 67 people were killed.