Security beefed up in Mogadishu airport, staff held over plane blast

Security has been beefed up at Mogadishu's Aden Ade Airport barely days after a flight with the country's Daallo airlines made emergency landing following a suspected bomb inside the plane Tuesday.

In a move aimed at enhancing security of the airport, the African Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) Saturday handed over a newly built police station at the airport to the Somali government.

Speaking during the handing-over ceremony, AU Special Representative to Somalia Ambassador Francisco Madeira reiterated the need to reinforce security of the airport, noting that it was a possible terrorist target.

"Like other airports across the world, this airport presents a potential target for terrorists. This Airport Police Station is therefore expected to provide a wide range of law enforcement duties," Madeira noted.

AMISOM Police Commissioner Anand Pillay said there was urgent need to ensure the safety of the airport to bolster confidence among visitors and users of the facility.

"Having a professional policing capability at the Airport will create the feeling of safety and security of the locals and visitors entering Somalia," Pillay said.

On his part, Somali Police Chief Mohamed Sheikh Hamud said the new police station will greatly contribute towards security and safety of the airport.

"We are delighted with the opening of this police station, and we thank AMISOM for their efforts to help strengthen security and wish this will contribute to improved security situation at the airport," said the police chief.

Airport and Airline employees held over Somali Plane blast

Somali authorities have detained at least five people for questioning about a midflight explosion aboard a passenger plane this week that killed one person and wounded two others, Somali intelligence sources said Saturday.

At a news conference in Mogadishu, Somali Aviation Minister Ali Ahmed Jangali confirmed the arrests and said the explosion that ripped a hole in the side of the Daallo Airlines Airbus was caused by a bomb, not mechanical failure.

A senior Somali security official told VOA that the FBI is helping Somalia with the investigation.

The blast forced the pilot of Flight 159, bound for Djibouti with 74 passengers on board, to make an emergency landing about 15 minutes after takeoff from Mogadishu.

"At least five people are being held. Two of them are suspected of assisting the suspected bomber," an official of the Somali Intelligence Agency told VOA.

Mogadishu airport staff and Daallo employees were among those detained, and more arrests might be forthcoming, according to the official, who declined to be identified.

Security camera video recordings showed suspicious activity by two airport baggage handlers and by members of the airline's staff, the government official said.

 

- Source VOANEWS, and XINHUA

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