Mogadishu, SOMALIA — Al-Shabab today launched a series of coordinated bombings in Mogadishu, targeting military and commercial areas, amidst a pivotal moment in Somalia’s security landscape. These attacks, which struck the TurkSom military base and key commercial hubs in the city, come as the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) is poised to further draw down its forces, with a Phase 2 reduction of 3,000 troops expected by the end of the month. Furthermore, this escalation by Al-Shabab follows a period of defensive posture by the Somali National Army (SNA) since their offensive faltered in August. The insurgent group’s actions highlight their ongoing efforts to destabilize the region and challenge a Somali government grappling with the impending ATMIS withdrawal and the need to reignite its military campaign.
Assault on TurkSom Military Base: A Focused Attack
The first Al-Shabab explosion, a suicide bombing at the TurkSom military base in Mogadishu, marked a grim day for the Somali military. The attacker targeted new recruits at the base, young individuals poised to join the Gorgor unit after completing their army training. Al-Shabab, claiming responsibility, revealed their intent to disrupt the recruitment and training of forces supported by Turkey. Al-Shabab’s claim that the attack resulted in 32 deaths cannot be independently verified. Initial reports suggest that there are dead and wounded, but their number is not clear. This is the first major attack against TurkSom, suggesting an escalation by Al-Shabab against Turkish interests.
The Commercial Areas: Labo Dhagax and Bakaro Market
In a further display of their capability to sow terror, Al-Shabab orchestrated two additional bombings in Mogadishu’s commercial districts – Labo Dhagax and Bakaro market. These attacks not only signify the group’s indiscriminate violence but also their strategic intent to instill fear in everyday life. Al-Shabab’s prohibition against the installation of CCTV cameras in these areas and the consequential targeting of those who defy this order demonstrate a calculated approach to terror and control.