Al-Shabaab attacked Dhuusamareeb with two car bombs this morning. The twin suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) attack rocked the city, raising concerns about the safety of Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. The President has been using Dhuusamareeb as his base for the past two months. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.
Dhuusamareeb, Galmudug, SOMALIA. By Dalmar:
The attack unfolded during the morning prayers when two Land Cruisers approached the city from the south along the Guriel – Dhuusamareeb road. Security forces on the road quickly identified the threat, halting one of the vehicles by shooting at its tires. However, the situation escalated when one of the vehicles detonated near the checkpoint, causing significant damage to military vehicles. The second al-Shabaab vehicle managed to penetrate the city but fell short of reaching its intended target: the President’s residence.
In a press release, the insurgent group claimed responsibility for the attack and stated that they had killed 16 security personnel while injuring 14 others. They also reported destroying military vehicles guarding the presidential palace in Dhuusamareeb. However, the group often exaggerates its battlefield claims.
The Somali government has provided limited information about the incident. The government media only said that its troops foiled the attack without giving further details. “A major terror plot foiled by security forces in Dhuusamareeb. Two cars packed with explosives were intercepted and neutralized before they could enter the city,” the Somali National News Agency (SONNA) wrote on X (Twitter) earlier today.
Is the “New Villa Somalia” still relevant?
The twin attack signals al-Shabaab’s determination to attempt Hassan Sheikh’s assassination. Should they succeed, the nation’s progress would be in jeopardy. Despite his deficiencies, the President of Somalia symbolizes unity, and his security should remain a paramount concern.
Hassan Sheikh had been using Dhuusamareeb as his base for the past two months, a decision that had already sparked different questions. The first one is his personal safety. The Somali President’s official office, Villa Somalia in Mogadishu, is possibly the safest location for conducting presidential affairs. Hassan Sheikh’s prolonged stay in the volatile Galmudug region despite al-Shabaab’s attacks, such as this morning, raises questions about the necessity of such an extended endeavour.
Moreover, the lack of government forces’ progress in Galmudug has further fueled doubts about the efficacy of the President’s ongoing presence. Not only did the counter-al-Shabaab offensive not much advance, but also the Office of the President penned a last-minute appeal to the President of the United Nations Security Council, requesting a delay in the withdrawal of 3,000 African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) troops that were slated to leave by the end of September. The Office of the President admits in the letter that the ongoing operations have not been going as planned, thus requesting an extension for a more deliberate and calculated military strategy.