Somalia: At least three dead in al-Shabaab attack at Mogadishu airport

By on March 24, 2022

MOGADISHU, (AFP) – At least three people were killed wednesday in an attack by al-Shabaab Islamists on the airport of the Somali capital Mogadishu, a compound under high protection housing UN offices, embassies and a base of the African Union force (AMISOM).

“A policeman, an Amisom soldier and a civilian died in the fighting. Seven other people, mostly security forces, were also injured,” Ibrahim Mohamed, an airport police officer, told AFP.

A witness present on the spot, Ismahan Hassan, told AFP a similar assessment.

“I saw a Ugandan soldier and a Somali policeman dead. I was also told that a civilian had died … but the number of victims may be higher because of the number of people left in the area when the armed men entered,” said the cleaner working in a restaurant.

The two attackers managed to penetrate the perimeter of the airport on Wednesday morning, reputed to be the most secure site in this unstable country in the Horn of Africa.

The attack – during which a gas station caught fire, releasing a thick plume of smoke – lasted about 45 minutes, several witnesses said, before the attackers were shot.

The radical Islamist group al-Shabaab, linked to Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack on the “Halane military base” and in particular the “section of embassies and international missions”.

Located within the airport, the Halane complex houses the UN offices, the Amisom base and several Western diplomatic missions, including those of the United Kingdom and the United States.

– Rare attack –

Al-Shabaab, which is fighting Somalia’s fragile federal government, was driven out of Mogadishu in 2011 after an Amisom offensive, but it still controls large areas of rural Somalia and continues to carry out attacks on government and military targets.

They have repeatedly claimed responsibility for mortar attacks on the airport compound. But gun attacks are rare.

The airport had been the target of mortar fire in 2019, leaving nine injured, and in 2020.

In early March, the UN again condemned the firing of six mortar shells against this area housing its facilities, an attack claimed by al-Shabaab.

Somalia, and particularly its capital Mogadishu, has been the scene of multiple attacks in recent weeks, while the country has been waiting for more than a year for the election of a new president.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s term in office, known as Farmajo, expired in February 2021 without him having managed to hold an election.

Since then, the process has progressed painfully, delayed by conflicts at the top of the executive and between the central government and some federal states.

After many postponements, the end of the lower house elections has been set for 31 March. This step must open a new phase leading to the appointment of a new head of state.

The repeated delays are of concern to the international community, which believes that they divert the attention of the authorities from issues crucial to the country, such as the al-Shabaab insurgency.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.