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Erdogan delays Somalia trip to attend Saudi king's funeral

ANKARA: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he has postponed Friday’s planned trip to Somalia to attend the funeral of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, a day after a bomb targeted a Turkish delegation in the capital Mogadishu.

“We’ve decided to go (to Riyadh) and are heading there now. But we are also going to continue our program and go to Djibouti and Somalia,” Erdogan told reporters in comments broadcast live by state television TRT.

Erdogan said he will travel to Djibouti after the funeral, and sources in his office said the Turkish leader is expected to go to Somalia on Sunday.

“It’s just a postponement. He will be coming to Somalia after the funeral but we don’t know the exact date or the time,” Daud Aweis, spokesman for the Somali presidency, told Reuters.

A suicide bomber on Thursday rammed a car laden with explosives into the gate of a Mogadishu hotel where Turkish and Somali delegates were meeting, killing two security guards.

Islamist al Shabaab militants, who have in the past attacked Turkey’s embassy in Mogadishu, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Turkish delegates were unharmed and sources within Erdogan’s office said the attack would not deter Erdogan from returning to Mogadishu for the first time since 2011, when he became the first non-African leader to visit Somalia in nearly 20 years. (REUTERS)

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