Al-Shabaab militants have reported that they ambushed a group of military trainees on Monday in a region located southwest of the capital of Mogadishu.
According to the militants, they killed thirty of the military trainees, however the claim has not been independently confirmed. While a Somali military officer did confirm that the ambush occurred, he disclosed that fighting was still on going and that no death toll was immediately available. Ahmed Ibrahim has indicated that “we understand al-Shabaab ambushed the Somali military commando trainees and captured two military pickup trucks,” adding, “it is too early to k now what the casualties are because fighting is still going on in the jungle.” Meanwhile al-Shabaab’s military spokesman, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, has reported that his group killed thirty commando trainees and seized four military trucks.
The ambush comes just a day after at least thirteen people were killed after al-Shabaab insurgents stormed a hotel in the capital city, where government officials and lawmakers stay.
On Sunday, security forces in Mogadishu fought for several hours before clearing a hotel of al-Shabaab gunmen who had stormed the building after two bombs ripped into it.
At least thirteen people were killed. According to Ahmed Nur, a police officer, a car bomb rammed the entrance to the hotel and was followed by a second blast, which a security guard disclosed was another vehicle bomb. Nur further disclosed that after a gun battle the lasted several hours, the hotel had been cleared of gunmen, adding, “the hotel has ben entirely secured.” Police officials have reported that amongst those killed were the hotel owner, a lawmaker, a former senior military commander, a radio journalist and other civilians. The hotel is located near a busy area in the capital city known as K-4.
Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the assault on the Sahafi hotel, which is where government officials and lawmakers usually frequent. On Sunday, al-Shabaab’s military operations spokesman indicated that “mujahideen entered and took over Sahafi hotel where enemies lived.” The incident mirrored tactics used before by al-Shabaab, in which it detonates bombs in order to break through security at targets and then sends in fighters.
On Wednesday, the UN envoy for Somalia insisted that the country was making progress, remarks that come just a day after the government stated that elections cannot be held as promised next year.
Nicholas Kay, the top UN diplomat in Somalia, stated that “the road to democracy is there, but 2016 will be a stepping stone short of full democracy.” Kay further indicated that the announcement, which was greeted with dismay in Somalia, was “no surprise,” adding, “it’s a reality we’ve been staring at for quite a while.” Kay spoke on the sidelines of the so-called High-Level Partnership Forum, a meeting of Somali and foreign delegates, which was held in the capital on Wednesday and Thursday. Kay described this week’s meeting as “the largest international meeting in Mogadishu in modern times” with discussions of what will happen in 2016, when the current government’s four-year mandate expires, at the top of the agenda. Kay also indicated that the process of state-building, after decades of civil war and anarchy, and the creation of a federal rather than a centralized administration “is going well but has taken longer than expected.” The last forum was hosted in Copenhagen.
On Tuesday, the Somali government admitted that insecurity and a lack of political progress meant that there cannot be “one man, one vote” elections in 2016 as were envisaged by the UN, foreign diplomats and the government itself. In a statement, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud disclosed that national elections are impossible amidst rampant violence that has been planned and carried out by al-Shabaab. The president denied the opposition’s allegations, stating that his government intends to focus on a review of the Constitution as well as building a strong national army. Mohamud’s term is due to expire in August. Elected in 2012, Mohamud’s government has struggled to assert its control across the country. While al-Shabaab militants have been driven out of the major strongholds over the years, they still control some parts of rural Somalia, particularly in the southern region of the country, and continue to carry out hit-and-run attacks in Mogadishu. What the electoral process may look like will be decided by the end of the year, with the Somali government due to hold public consultations before presenting proposals to the international community in early 2016.
Meanwhile late on Wednesday, the UN Security Council passed a resolution, which effectively authorizes until May 2016 the deployment of the 22,000-strong African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which is fighting al-Shabaab and protecting the government. The same resolution also extended the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), which is headed by UN envoy for Somalia Nicholas Kay, until March 2016.
At least six United Nations workers killed in Somalia in an attack launched by al-Shabaab, just one day after the militant group killed three African Union (AU) troops.
Police officials have confirmed that at least six UN workers were killed in Somalia on Monday when a huge bomb placed by al-Shabaab militants destroyed a bus in the northeastern town of Garowe, the capital of the semi-autonomous Puntland region.
Somali police official Abdullahi Mohamed disclosed Monday “we have confirmed the death of six UN staff, including a foreign national,” adding “the bomb is believed to have been attached to the minibus and was detonated near the UN office.” While officials are currently carrying out an investigation into the attack, witnesses and security officials have suggested that the explosion may have come from a roadside bomb that was detonated as the minibus, which is used to transport staff from a guesthouse to the UN compound, was passing. Mr Mohamed has indicated, “investigations are still ongoing to establish how it happened but I can confirm you that the UN compound was not affected.”
The head of the UN in Somalia, Nick Kay, has condemned the attack, stating that he was “shocked and appalled by (the) loss of life.” Shortly after the attack, al-Shabaab insurgents claimed responsibility, stating that the UN is a “colonization force in Somalia.” The militant group has in the past targeted the UN. In December 2014, four people were killed when a suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into a UN convoy in the capital Mogadishu.
Monday’s attack comes a day after al-Shabaab militants killed three AU soldiers in southern Somalia.
African Union officials confirmed Monday that al-Shabaab militants killed three AU soldiers in Somalia on Sunday. AU envoy to Somalia Maman Sidikou condemned “the cowardly ambush” on a convoy of troops. The incident occurred Sunday as the convoy was travelling in the southern Lower Shabelle district, between the settlements of Lego and Balidogle.
Al-Shabaab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab confirmed that the militant group was responsible for the attack, adding that five AU soldiers had been killed and that several vehicles were destroyed. While he indicated that the soldiers were from Burundi, AU force officials have not released any details pertaining to the nationalities of the victims.
The latest attacks come as al-Shabaab militants on Saturday shot dead a lawmaker in the capital Mogadishu in what is the latest in a string of assassinations of politicians in the Horn of Africa nation. According to an al-Shabaab spokesman, Adan Haji Hussein, an MP in the semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland, was killed in Mogadishu during a visit to the capital city. Abdulaziz Abu Musab confirmed “our commandos shot and killed Adan for being a member of the apostate administration,” warning “all MPs, whether they are regional or so-called national MPs, we will kill them.” Omar Dalha, a fellow MP, confirmed the death and has called on the government to investigate the murder.
Reports have surfaced that Somali-based al-Shabaab is heavily recruiting in northeastern Kenya. The news comes just days after the militant group targeted Somalia’s higher education ministry in the capital city, Mogadishu.
On the ground sources have reported that in the town of Isiolo in northeastern Kenya, twenty-six young men have disappeared, with officials suspecting that they have joined the militant group. Sources have indicated that here are similar concerns in other parts of the country. Al-Shabaab’s recruitment in Kenya marks a change of tactic for the group and highlights fears voiced by Kenyan intelligence services and MP’s that the Somali-based militant group is increasingly threatening Kenya and the wider Horn of Africa region. In the wake of a recent string of deadly attacks in northeastern Kenya, al-Shabaab has warned Kenyan officials that this is just the beginning, and that they will carry out further deadly attacks in the coming months. With al-Shabaab militants increasingly being force out of key areas in central and southern Somalia, increasing recruitments of militants in Kenya is likely to be seen as a way for them to not only replenish the group’s numbers, but for them to more power to stage deadly attacks.
On Tuesday, al-Shabaab militants attacked the higher education ministry in Mogadishu, Somalia. They used a car bomb before storming the building, killing at least fifteen people and wounding twenty others.
Police officer Mohamed Dahir disclosed that troops backed by African Union (AU) forces regained control of the building after around an hour-long attack, which began when “a car loaded with explosives rammed the gate.” Police and eyewitnesses reported that the car bomb caused a huge explosion that effectively allowed the gunmen to force their way into the fortified building. According to Mohamed Yusuf Osman, the internal security ministry spokesman, six al-Shabaab gunmen were killed in the attack, “the security forces and AU peacekeepers shot and killed four of the attackers, while the other two blew themselves up.”
Al-Shabaab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab claimed responsibility for the attack, indicating that al-Shabaab gunmen had been “fully in control” of the ministry and that they were also able to enter a neighbouring building that houses the oil ministry. Both buildings are located in the capital’s K5 district, which has been targeted by a string of similar attacks in recent months, with a car bombing to force entry into fortified buildings followed by an armed raid becoming the militant group’s trademark tactic. Last month, al-Shabaab gunmen stormed the fortified Maka al Mukurama hotel in Mogadishu. While earlier this month, the militant group carried out its deadliest attack yet, when al-Shabaab gunmen killed 148 people in a day-long siege at a university in neighbouring Kenya’s northeastern town of Garissa.