UPDATE 1-Djibouti says couple that bombed restaurant were probably Somali

Sun May 25, 2014 10:52am EDT

Related Topics

* Attack on Saturday killed 3 and wounded at least 15

* Djibouti did not name any suspected group or network

* U.S. ally Djibouti borders Somalia, has troops there (Adds president statement, clarifies status of attackers' origins)

By Abdourahim Arteh

DJIBOUTI, May 25 (Reuters) - A man and woman who blew themselves up in a restaurant in Djibouti on Saturday - in the first attack of its kind in the East African state - were probably Somalis, the interior minister said.

The suicide bombing killed one other person - a Turkish national - in the restaurant that was filled with Western military personnel. Seven Frenchmen and four Germans were among the wounded, Interior Minister Hassan Omar said on Sunday.

"I would say two suicide bombers are probably of Somali origin. But the investigations will prove that," Omar told journalists.

The interior ministry, which had previously stated as fact that the couple were Somali, did not say if it suspected any group for being behind the bombing.

"This act of blind terrorism does not jeopardise our determination to fight with the international community against this scourge," President Ismail Omar Guelleh said.

"We promise to make every effort to find the perpetrators and sponsors of this barbaric crime."

A former French colony, Djibouti hosts a French military base and the only U.S. military base in Africa. Its port is used by foreign navies policing the Gulf of Aden's shipping lanes, some of the busiest in the world, against pirates from Somalia, which borders the country to the south.

Somalia is home of the al Qaeda-linked group al Shabaab which has carried out many gun and bomb attacks outside the country, including as assault on a Kenyan shopping mall last year that killed 67 people. On Saturday, it attacked the Somali parliament, killing at least 10 security officers.

Djibouti has troops in Somalia as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia or AMISOM - also comprising forces from Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia - which helped drive al Shabaab from Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, in 2011.

The European Union said members of the its naval mission EUNAVFOR Atalanta and civilian maritime security mission EUCAP Nestor were wounded in Saturday's bombing. Spain said three of its airforce personnel, in Djibouti as part of the EU mission, were hurt, one of whom was seriously wounded by shrapnel.

The Pentagon said no Defense Department personnel were wounded. (Additional reporting by George Obulutsa in Nairobi, Arshad Mohammed in Washington, Sarah White in Madrid; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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