MOGADISHU (AFP) - Two powerful explosions ripped through the headquarters of African Union peacekeepers in Somalia Thursday, killing nine soldiers including the Burundian deputy commander in a twin suicide attack by rebels. At least two bombs exploded at the force headquarters in a fortified compound at Mogadishu airport, the AU said in a statement which condemned what it called a barbaric attack in which at least 15 other soldiers were wounded. Among those who died is the AMISOM deputy commander Major General Juvenal Niyonguruza, who was about to complete his tour of duty in Somalia, Ugandan army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Felix Kulayigye said. The army said the force commander, Ugandan General Nathan Mugisha, was among the wounded in the twin attack, which was claimed by hardline Shebab rebels. Kulayigye said the injuries to Mugisha, who took up his post only last month, were minor. The circumstances surrounding the attack were unclear Thursday but witnesses said the bombers entered the compound using two vehicles with United Nations markings. Kulayigye, who said Mugisha was about to host negotiations at the compound, said the bombers had got in with a group that was coming for talks. He did not elaborate. At least 15 seriously wounded were to be airlifted to Nairobi and Kampala within hours, according to non-governmental organisation AMREF, which specialises in medical evacuations. The Shebab, who have vowed to avenge a US raid that killed one of their leaders this week, said they carried out the attacks. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner issued a statement condemning the attack in the strongest terms and reaffirming Frances unwavering support for AMISOMs role and missions for peace and stability in Somalia. He said Paris was looking at ways to provide rapid assistance to the wounded, including possibly with French military resources in the region. UN chief Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the suicide blasts that killed nine African Union peacekeepers in Somalia Thursday. I condemn this terrorist attack in the strongest terms, the UN secretary general told a press conference here. A witness, Ali Mohamed, said he had seen two bodies brought from the area, adding that they appeared to be Somalis. Mohamed said one blast hit an area of the base where the peacekeeping force was providing medical services to locals. Soldiers took up positions near the entrance to the base after the explosions and fired into the air to prevent people approaching, according to another witness, Irbahim Aden. Clashes erupted elsewhere in southern Mogadishu between insurgents and AU forces backing Somali government troops, witnesses said.