Somalia Attack: Al-Shabab responsible for suicide bombs and gun assault
March 1, 2019 | Brainwave Science
Islamist Al-Shabab fighters exploded two suicide bombs in an area lined with the chief judge’s residence and Hotel Maka Al-Mukarama in Mogadishu, killing more than two dozen and destroying a building in the Somali capital’s busiest street. Heavy gunfire rang out across central Mogadishu as the battle between Somalia Security Forces and militants continues.
It was one of the heaviest blasts to have hit Mogadishu in recent times.
Major Musa Ali stated, “The militants are still fighting from inside a civilian house adjacent to the hotel with grenades and Kalashnikov rifles.”
The attack, on a popular and the busiest street, is a recognized pattern of Al Shabab assaults on high-profile targets in East Africa. The attacks come a day after US forces in Somalia stepped up air strikes against the terror group, which is fighting to dislodge a Western-backed government protected by peacekeepers. According to media reports, 29 people, mostly civilians, had died in the attack and its aftermath, and 80 people been wounded. However, police believe the death toll may rise and rise until the condition is under control.
According to reports, the Secretary-general of the National Union of Somali Journalist (NUSOJ) Mohamed Moalimuu was also inside the Maka al Mukarama hotel during the blast followed by the clash between soldiers and militants.
Al Shabab’s military spokesman, Abdiasis Abu Musab, said militants have full control of the Mogadishu Hotel and adjacent street. He said, “The government tried three times to enter the building, but we repulsed them.”
Hassan Haile, a prominent UK-based Somali political analyst, said Islamist militant group use bribes and threats to carry out their attacks. He said, “they either bribe with money or make it very clear that they know where the soldiers live, who their families are, to reach where they want to reach.”
Somalia has been tormented by lawlessness and violence since 1991, and a further layer of chaos was added in 2006 when Al Shabab came into presence. With pledged allegiance to Islamic State, this terror group is considered the deadliest jihadi group in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Islamist group Al-Shabab, which is linked to Al-Qaeda, was driven out of Mogadishu and other provinces because of the US and Somalia governments’ counter-terrorism operation. The United States has sharply increased its air strikes against the group since President Trump took leadership. The American military command for Africa reported carrying out 50 strikes in Somalia last year. According to the former deputy director of Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), Al-Shabab has increased its attacks in Mogadishu targeting politician, foreign delegates, peacekeepers, British and US citizens as the vengeance for the US airstrikes. Last year, Al Shabab terror group shot five alleged foreign spies in a public execution.
The Al-Shabab terror group, which opposes Somalia’s federal government and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), wants to impose sharia law and has carried out many deadly attacks inside Somalia and elsewhere in the region, including in neighboring Kenya. One such an example, Al-Shabab militants killed eight Kenyan law enforcement personnel.
All these recurring attacks demonstrate that eliminating Al-Shabab would be immensely challenging for counter-terrorism agencies especially with the use of violence. Hassan Haile stated accurately that the biggest reason for terror attacks in Somalia are corruption and fear. Thousands of militants have been imprisoned, hundreds of counter-terrorism personnel and citizens have died in the crossfire and millions of citizens fled since the past decade. Now the question is does Somalia desperately need a permanent solution for terrorism? It is understood that crushing Al-Shabab or the Islamic States would take more than bullets and bombs. The counter-terrorism agencies need accurate and infallible intelligence and evidence before these terror group strike again and with great chaos.
The Al-Shabab remains a lethal threat in the sub-Saharan region despite all the counter-terrorism efforts. The group predominately conducts attacks targeting the Somali government and the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). Every attack directed by Al-Shabab has been the worst one, confirming their terror strength. The only hope for Somalia citizens and thousands of victims depend on the action of Somalia government and counter-terrorism agencies. It is understood that the military cannot win this battle with bullets and explosives. In order to eliminate terror groups, precise intelligence is required to strike a deadly blow. Till now, counter-terrorism agencies relied on existing conventional intelligence gathering tools which do not guarantee accurate results, are time taking processes and do not reveal what information a terrorist possess and is trying to conceal from the investigation which could be further used to reverse-engineer and identify the masterminds, location of training camps and details of future attacks.
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