Report: North Korean weapons used by terrorists in Somalia for attack on UN

Mortars made in North Korea were used by Al-Qaeda operatives in Somalia for an attack on a UN compound, according to a UN report

Al-Qaeda operatives in Somalia used munitions made in North Korea in an attack against a United Nations compound in Somalia earlier this year, according to a UN panel of experts. The Al Shabaab militant group, which has wreaked havoc in the country in the Horn of Africa, carried out six attacks near Eden Adde International Airport within Somalia's capital between February and May, targeting the heavily-fortified Halane base. 

According to the report by the experts, one of the attacks included the firing of four 60mm mortar rounds in the direction of the UN compound at Eden Adde International Airport on February 17, the UN Panel of Experts on Somalia said in a final report dated September 28. 

"Two unexploded 60-mm mortar rounds found in the aftermath of the attack on 17 February 2020. One has characteristics consistent with a 60-mm HE type 63 mortar round, manufactured in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea," said the report published on the UN's website, using North Korea's official name.

The report stated that the communist country may be in contact with Al-Shabaab and selling it arms, which might result in additional sanctions against the leadership in Pyongyang. Al-Shabaab is fighting to topple the weak Somali administration that is supported by the UN. "It is the consistent stance of the government of the DPRK to oppose terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and any support to it," an unidentified North Korean diplomat said in October at a UN session.   

In June, the US State Department said that North Korea has failed to take action address its historical support for acts of international terrorism. The US designated North Korea as a sponsor of terror for the first time in 1988 after the bombing of a South Korean passenger jet that killed all 115 on board in 1987.   

Washington removed Pyongyang from the list in 2008 in exchange for progress in the nuclear talks. In 2017, the US redesignated North Korea as a sponsor of terror after it determined that that the North Korean government "repeatedly" provided support for international terror.  

Al-Shabaab primarily collects revenue in Zakat and frequently kidnaps foreigners in exchange for ransom, which helps the organization carry out activities throughout Somalia. The group controls large areas in the central and southern part of the country but has been relinquishing ground due to continuing government operations. There are close to 7,000 active Al-Shabab fighters in the country, according to investigations carried out by the UN. The African Union and the US have deployed troops to the country to neutralize terror. 

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