In what appears to be a sign that the militant group has not been shaken by air strikes that killed its leader exactly a week ago, on Monday al-Shabaab militants carried out a suicide bombing that targeted African Union (AU) troops in Somalia.
According to local governor Abdukadir Mohamed Sidi, a car laden with explosives struck an AU convoy as it was travelling southwest of the capital city, Mogadishu. The attack took place on the road between Mogadishu and Afgoye town, which is located 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the capital. At least twelve civilians in a minibus were killed and twenty-seven others were wounded, including several AU soldiers. Last week, sources revealed that the AU force supported US Special Forces in the air strikes. The AU’s continued presence in Somalia, coupled with on-going military operations to push al-Shabaab out of remaining strongholds they control in southern Somalia, likely means that the militant group will target them in the coming weeks.
This is likely the second attack to take place since the militant group vowed to avenge the killing of its leader Ahmed Abdi Godane. On Monday, officials confirmed that mortar shells had struck a Mogadishu neighbourhood late Sunday. According to one police officer, the shells landed in residential areas in Hamarjajab neighbourhood. Five people were wounded in the attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack however officials have disclosed that al-Shabaab militants are likely behind it.
With a new successor named on Saturday, al-Shabaab appears to be working under a “business as usual,” policy – effectively demonstrating that airstrikes and the transition of a new leader will have little effect on its operations. On Saturday, al-Shabaab’s spokesman disclosed that the militant group had unanimously selected Ahmad Umar, also known as Abu Ubaidah, at a meeting in an undisclosed location in Somalia. Al-Shabaab also confirmed that it remains aligned with al-Qaeda and vowed to carry out attacks in the wake of Godane’s death.
On Friday, Somalia’s government disclosed that it has credible intelligence that al-Shabaab is planning attacks in retaliation for Godane’s death. Such attacks in the short-term will likely target government facilities, the international airport, as well as AU and Somali troops.