MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Turkey’s president opened a new Turkish embassy in Somalia’s capital on Friday amid heavy security less than two days after militants attacked a hotel in the city, killing 15 people.
The al-Shabab extremist group, which is waging an insurgency against Somalia’s weak government, has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Ambassador Hotel in Mogadishu.
This is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s third visit to Somalia. He is the only non-African president to visit war-ravaged Somalia in decades. Erdogan visited Somalia last year, a day after al-Shabab attacked a hotel hosting Turkish delegates and killed at least six people.
On Friday, Erdogan cut a ribbon to the new beachfront Turkish embassy in Mogadishu, calling it the largest and most advanced Turkish embassy in Africa.
“Our projects in Somalia will continue,” he said.
Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud praised Turkey’s support for Somalia, saying that its engagement attests to how the Turkish government is committed to helping the country, which is recovering from decades of war.
Erdogan is also scheduled to hold talks with Somali leaders as the country prepares for a presidential election this year. Erdogan also visited Kenya and Uganda before coming to Mogadishu.
Erdogan has been trying to raise Turkey’s influence in Africa, especially in the continent’s Muslim countries. Turkey has significantly stepped up trade with sub-Saharan nations in the past decade.
Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed.