Mogadishu – A new terrorist attack has left at least seven people dead in the Somali capital. This is the second attack in a week. Militants of the terrorist group Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (better known as Al-Shabaab) used two car bombs, which were crashed into the door of the headquarters of the Criminal Investigation Department.

Taking advantage of the commotion three armed militants rushed inside, where thirty minutes of gunfire followed. Security forces frustrated the attack and shot dead the gunmen. Ali Mohamed, a police officer, has confirmed seven fatalities, although other sources, such as Hussein Ali, another police officer claimed as much as ten deaths, including five civilians.

The Somali capital Mogadishu has been the focal point for terrorist attacks credited to Al-Shabaab for over a year now. Image Credit: Daily nigeria News
The Somali capital Mogadishu has been the focal point for terrorist attacks credited to Al-Shabaab for over a year now. Image Credit: Daily Nigeria News

Another fifteen people are severely wounded and are being treated at nearby hospitals. Al-Shabaab lost five militants, the three gunmen and other two that died in the car bombings. The Criminal Investigation Department is the place where Al-Shabaab suspects are interrogated and held in custody.

A bloody group

Although Al-Shabaab areas of operation are Somalia and Yemen, group militants carried a deadly attack on Kenya in April last year.

Armed militants rushed into the Garissa University College in Garissa, keeping 700 students hostage, killing 148 for being Christian, and wounded more than 80. The siege ended when the four militants were shot. The attack became the deadliest in Kenya since the bombings in the United States embassy in 1998.

In February 2016, the group claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Daallo Airlines Flight 159, which occurred twenty minutes after the plane took off from Mogadishu airport.

On Tuesday, another couple of car bombs exploded near the capital’s airport, the African Union and the United Nations headquarters, killing 13 people. Experts have warned the attacks might get more frequently as the presidential election due in August comes closer, but it’s only a hypothesis.

Al-Shabaab’s history

Al-Shabaab used to be the militant youth movement of the Islamic Courts Union, a group of Sharia courts that united themselves against the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, backed up by the United Nations.

When the Courts were defeated in 2006, they splintered into several other groups. Al-Shabaab aim is to create a fundamentalist Islamic state in Somalia. In recent times Al-Shabaab has stopped being a ‘youth’ group, urging elders, and even women to join their armed forces.

Al-Shabaab Islamist Fighters
A shot of members of the terrorist group Al-Shabaab parading through the streets while children rally for them. Image Credit: CNN

In 2012, the group claimed alliance with Al-Qaeda. It was also denounced by United States Arm General Carter Ham denounced Al-Shabaab, and Nigeria-based Boko Haram was discussing the possibility of sharing funds, training, and equipment.

The group’s allegiance to Al-Qaeda has attracted the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) attention. In 2015 ISIL issued videos urging Al-Shabaab to switch its loyalty from Al-Qaeda to ISIL.

Al-Shahabad responded by forbidding its militants of speaking about ISIL and reinforcing their fidelity towards Al-Qaeda, even going as far as to detain activists who were supportive of ISIL. In response to these actions, Al-Shabaab suffered defections in its ranks, especially in the Kenyan border

At the end of 2015, the two groups have had bloody encounters, where they both have lost men.

Source: The Independent