Al Shabaab claims responsibility for Djibouti suicide attack

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somali rebel group al Shabaab was behind the restaurant attack in Djibouti by two suicide bombers over the weekend that killed a Turkish national and wounded several Western soldiers, the militants said on Tuesday.

In the first attack of its kind in the tiny Horn-of-Africa state, a man and a woman blew themselves up at the restaurant on Saturday evening when it was filled with Western military personnel.

Djibouti, which hosts military bases for France and the United States, contributes troops to the African Union mission (AMISOM) trying to stabilise neighbouring Somalia to the south.

“The attack was carried out against the French Crusaders for their complicity in the massacres and persecution of our Muslim brothers in the Central African Republic and for their active role in training and equipping the apostate Djiboutian troops in Somalia,” al Shabaab said in a statement.

The al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab has carried out many gun and bomb attacks outside Somalia, 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.

The European Union said members of the its naval mission EUNAVFOR Atalanta and civilian maritime security mission EUCAP Nestor were wounded in Saturday’s Djibouti bombing.

Spain said three of its air force personnel, in Djibouti as part of the EU mission, were hurt, one of whom was seriously wounded by shrapnel. The Pentagon said no U.S. Defense Department personnel were wounded.

The militants and their sympathisers have carried out a series of attacks in Kenya, another contributor to AMISOM, scaring away western tourists.

Burundi, Uganda, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone also have troops in the AMISOM force.

Reporting by Feisal Omar; writing by Duncan Miriri, editing by Stephen Addison