Al-Shabaab Launches Deadly Attack in Mogadishu
Late Thursday evening a car packed with explosives went off outside of the Makka Al-Mukarama hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia. The detonation was followed by numerous attacks throughout the city leaving 30 killed and 80 injured. The terrorist organization known as Al-Shabaab have claimed responsibility for the attacks. This comes less than a week after a deadly U.S. airstrike killed 35 Al-Shabaab members.
Al-Shabaab is an Al-Qaeda linked group primarily operating out of Somalia. They were born from a radical youth movement within the Union of Islamic courts, a political movement set up to rival the government forces in Somalia around 2006. Al-Shabaab grew out of the UIC initially as their military wing until the UIC was defeated. They operate much like many other radical fundamentalist groups and mainly control the southern region of Somalia. There are believed to be between 7,000-9,000 fighters currently in their ranks along with an extensive network of connections throughout the government propped up by bribery and intimidation. It is believed this is how they were able to gain access to Makka Al-Mukarama road the busiest and most heavily protected road in Somalia.
The Makka Al-Mukarama hotel is situated on the road that shares the same name. The road has often been called the “heart of Somalia” due to its central location in Mogadishu and its significance for the city. The attacks carried out on Thursday evening stretched along the road including two other car bombings at the Hilaac UK restaurant and the KM-4 Junction. The Makka Al-Mukarama hotel itself has a long history of being targeted by Al-Shabaab in many of their previous attacks. The frequency of attacks has been attributed to its location but also its reputation as being the place where government officials and journalists are housed.
In addition to the bombings, several Al-Shabaab fighters launched a raid attempting to enter the hotel and a nearby appellate court judge’s residence. After failed attempts to get into those complexes, the fighters invaded a local home and were held up there through Friday. Throughout the 17-hour long raid gunfire was being heavily exchanged between the Al-Shabaab forces and Somalia’s U.S. trained Alpha team, There are also reports that the attackers were using civilians as shields and had taken some hostages, however, they were freed as of Friday.
The attackers were killed but not after a long and drawn out gunfight putting the horrific events to an end. The aftermath includes overworked local hospitals unable to cope with the scale of the injuries and reports some people losing limbs. 15 of the injured had to be rushed to surgery and three died as a result of their injuries.
Following the attack, U.S. Military Officials announced that a new set of airstrikes had taken place against Al-Shabaab killing 26 fighters. This is counted as the 24th strike to take place in 2019 so far. It is clear that the Trump administration carried out a response to the attacks. It is yet to be seen whether or not the U.S. strategy will be able to quell the extremist group's grip on Somalia.