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UN targeted: Car bomb blast kills 6 in Somali capital after mortar fire hits city overnight

AP10ThingsToSee - A government soldier walks past a destroyed building in Mogadishu, Somalia on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. Police said the car bomb explosion near the airport has killed at least three people and wounded five. Police Capt. Mohamed Hussein said the blast was detonated by remote control at the busy junction and blamed the militant group al-Shabab. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

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AP10ThingsToSee - A government soldier walks past a destroyed building in Mogadishu, Somalia on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. Police said the car bomb explosion near the airport has killed at least three people and wounded five. Police Capt. Mohamed Hussein said the blast was detonated by remote control at the busy junction and blamed the militant group al-Shabab. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

MOGADISHU, Somalia - A car bomb exploded close to a convoy of United Nations vehicles near Mogadishu's international airport on Thursday, killing six Somalis on the street, officials said. Al-Qaida-linked militants claimed responsibility.

A U.N. vehicle was damaged but said no U.N. staff were injured, said Nicholas Kay, U.N. representative to Somalia. He said four security escorts were lightly wounded.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack and expressed "deep condolences" to the families of the Somalis killed and injured, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

"The secretary-general remains determined to support the Somali government in preventing such attacks and holding the perpetrators accountable ... (and) reaffirms the undeterred resolve of the United Nations to support the people and federal government of Somalia," Nesirky said.

The U.N. Security Council expressed "outrage" at the attack and reaffirmed that the explosion and other acts of terrorism would not weaken "their determination to stand by the people of Somalia as they seek peace and stability."

Al-Shabab, Somalia's most lethal militant group claimed responsibility, boasting that the attack had killed U.N. personnel. Al-Shabab frequently makes false claims.

The remote controlled blast killed six Somalis and wounded eight, said police Col. Ahmed Hassan Maalin.

The blast occurred at the city's busy airport junction. The heavily fortified Mogadishu airport is the base for the U.N., other international diplomats and African Union forces that help support Somalia's government.

The bomb blast comes after a barrage of mortars hit Mogadishu overnight. Mortars also hit the city last week, raising fears of a return to more constant warfare.

Al-Shabab which once controlled most of Mogadishu, was pushed out of the city in 2011. But it continues to carry out deadly gunfire and bomb attacks in the city.

The blast was a "heinous terror attack," said Andrea Mazzella, Italy's ambassador to Somalia.

"The civilian population continues to pay an unbearable price in terms of loss of lives and suffering," Mazzella said. "I appeal to the Federal Government and to the elders and leaders of the all country to express together, unequivocally, their renewed determination to achieve lasting peace for the sake of their people."

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