Al-Shabaab Militants Attack Two Somali Military Bases

al shabaab
Al Shabaab soldiers patrol in formation along the streets of Dayniile district in Southern Mogadishu, March 5, 2012. REUTERS/Feisal Omar.

 

Al-Shabaab Islamists on Wednesday carried out attacks on two Somali military bases, using a suicide vehicle bombing and dozens of heavily armed militants, a military official said.

African Union troops stepped in to help repel the second, larger attack after a suicide bomber drove a vehicle packed with explosives onto a bridge leading to the Qoryoley army base some 95 kilometres (59 miles) west of Mogadishu and detonated it.

Earlier they had attacked the Ceel-Salini military base some 30 kilometres away.

“The terrorists carried out an … attack on the military bases at Qoryoley and Ceel-salini but our brave boys repelled them, they (Shabaab) have suffered heavy casualties this morning and the army is in full control in both areas now,” said Mohamed Adan, a Somali military commander in a nearby town.

“They have destroyed part of the bridge across the entrance to Qoryoley where the Somali military base is located using a vehicle loaded with explosives.”

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He said the AU peacekeeping force AMISOM had helped fight the Al-Qaeda linked militants.

It was not yet known how many casualties there were.

Witnesses said dozens of heavily armed Shabaab militants entered Qoryoley town and addressed a gathering of residents before retreating.

“The Shabaab fighters entered the town and one of their commanders spoke with a gathering before they made their way out of the town, the situation is quiet now and the Somali forces backed by AMISOM soldiers are patrolling the streets,” Ali Moalim, a resident in Qoryoley said by phone.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, saying they had “captured a sizeable amount of military supplies”.

The group has fought for over a decade to topple the internationally-backed Somali government, and carries out regular attacks against civilian and government targets, despite losing much of the territory they once controlled.

10 Killed As Shabaab Fighters Battle In Somalia Siege

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At least 10 people have been killed in an overnight battle in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu that began with a car bombing by the Al-Shabaab jihadist group, security officers said midday Friday, as sporadic shooting continued.

One Shabaab fighter blew himself up in the car bomb late on Thursday, a huge blast that ripped the front off a major hotel and sparked a fireball blaze igniting several cars on the busy street.

Other fighters from the Al-Qaeda-linked group stormed inside a building housing a restaurant, where they were ringed by police.

Fighting continues, with Shabaab gunmen boasting of thwarting attempts to storm their positions, more than 16 hours after the attack began.

“More than 10 people have been killed,” said Abdirahman Ali, a national security officer.

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“Rescue operations are still ongoing. The death toll may, therefore, be higher because there could be still bodies under the debris.”

Abdukadir Abdirahman, director of the Aamin Ambulance service, said that at least 60 people had been wounded.

The attack is the latest in a long line of bombing and assaults the group has carried out.

Witnesses close to the area reported sounds of explosions on Friday morning.

“There are still some armed men inside a building,” police officer Ibrahim Mohamed said, amid sporadic bursts of gunfire and grenade explosions.

“Security forces are trying to storm the building.”

 The siege on the busy street 

Medics said they had pulled out several bodies from the wreckage of the bomb blast immediately after the explosion, but recovery of any more bodies has been blocked by the ensuing fighting.

Several vehicles were thrown into the air by the force of the blast before bursting into flames.

Shabaab insurgents said the bombing was aimed at killing senior officials staying in the Maka Al-Mukarama hotel.

They boasted in a statement on Friday of holding out against multiple attempts by soldiers to defeat them, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist activities.

Mogadishu is regularly targeted by the Shabaab in its long fight to topple the government.

Witnesses said the bombing took place in the early evening when the street was filled with people relaxing after a day’s work.

“The whole area was in flames,” said Abdisamed Mohamed, a witness. “There was gunfire too.”

Shabaab fighters fled the fixed positions they once held in Mogadishu in 2011, and have since lost many of their strongholds.

But they retain control of large rural swathes of the country and continue to wage a guerrilla war against the authorities.

AFP

15 Killed In Ongoing Islamist Attack On Kenya Hotel Complex

 

Fifteen people have died in an Islamist attack on an upmarket hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenyan police sources said Wednesday, as fresh explosions and gunfire rang out in the siege which stretched into its second day.

Security forces worked throughout the night to secure the DusitD2 compound, which includes a 101-room hotel, spa, restaurant and office buildings, after an attack claimed by Al-Shabaab Islamists on Tuesday afternoon.

At least one suicide bomber blew himself up at the hotel while gunmen sprayed fire before engaging security forces and holing themselves up at the premises as civilians fled or barricaded themselves in their offices awaiting rescue.

“We have 15 people dead as of now and that includes foreigners,” a police source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Among the dead was an American citizen, a State Department official said.

A second police source confirmed the toll but warned “there are areas not yet accessed but that’s what we know so far.”

After 12 hours trapped inside the complex, a group of dozens of people was freed at 3:30am (1230GMT), according to an AFP journalist at the scene, followed by fresh gunfire and a detonation.

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“We still believe there are two or three attackers in specific locations,” the first police officer said. “The situation is far from over.”

The second police officer said that at one point they had been sure the attackers had been neutralised after a long period without shooting, however gunfire resumed again after 2am.

Further explosions and gunfire were heard shortly before dawn, with no official word on how many people were still trapped inside.

“There is a floor where they are shooting from, we still believe there are people there,” he said, after reports that a large number of people had fled upstairs.

‘Very confident’ attackers

Kenyan police chief Joseph Boinnet said the attack began with an explosion targeting three cars in the parking lot and a suicide bombing in the foyer of the Dusit hotel.

As the explosion and gunfire rang out in the leafy Westlands suburb, hundreds of terrified office workers barricaded themselves in the complex while some fled.

“We have no idea what is happening. Gunshots are coming from multiple directions,” said Simon Crump, an employee at an international firm who was hiding with his colleagues.

Crump was among the first wave of people evacuated from the office buildings surrounding the Dusit hotel, after an hour of sustained gunfire.

 

A number of heavily-armed foreign forces, who appeared to be from embassies based in Nairobi, were at the scene alongside Kenyan security officers.

One survivor rescued from the building told a local television station the attackers were “very confident; they were people who knew what they were doing”.

CCTV footage broadcast on television showed four attackers, clad all in black and heavily armed, entering a courtyard in the compound at the start of the assault.

 ‘A flash and a bang’

John Maingi said there had been “a flash of lights and a loud bang” at the Secret Garden restaurant where he works.

“When I peeped outside I saw a human leg which has been cut off. We hid in the room and then some police officers rescued us,” he said.

Reuben Kimani, a barista who was rescued after several hours trapped inside the hotel, said he recognised one of the attackers as a client.

“I knew one of them because he had a big scar on one of his hands,” he said. “I saw them. They shot six of my friends, four didn’t die but two succumbed.”

 Shabaab

The attack was claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked Somali group Al-Shabaab, which has repeatedly targeted Kenya since it sent its army into Somalia in October 2011 to fight the jihadist group.

The attack at DusitD2 is the first in Nairobi since gunmen stormed the city’s Westgate shopping mall in 2013, killing at least 67 people.

On April 2, 2015, another Shabaab attack killed 148 people at the university in Garissa, eastern Kenya.

The Westgate attack resulted in many upscale establishments and shopping centres in the capital — including the Dusit — putting up strict security barriers to check cars and pedestrians.

Several Nairobi establishments popular with westerners announced on social media Tuesday that they had closed for security reasons.

In its statement, the group noted the attack came exactly three years after its fighters overran a Kenyan military base in Somalia.

“This attack on Nairobi hotel came as Kenyans and their media are commemorating (the) El Adde attack,” it said.

The Shabaab claimed it killed more than 200 soldiers in that assault. The government has refused to give a toll or disclose details.

Suicide Bomber Kills 18 Police Officers In Somalia

A Somali man reacts next to a dead body on the site where a car bomb exploded at the center of Mogadishu. Photo: Mohamed ABDIWAHAB / AFP

A suicide bomber from Somalia’s Shabaab insurgents killed 18 police officers and wounded 15 others on Thursday when he blew himself up inside the country’s main police academy, the force’s chief said.

Witnesses said the police were gathered in a square ahead of their early morning parade when the bomber attacked in the capital Mogadishu.

The assault is the latest in a decade-old battle by the jihadists to overthrow Somalia’s internationally-backed government.

“Eighteen members from the police were killed, and 15 others were wounded, after a suicide bomber blew himself inside the academy,” acting police chief General Muktar Hussein Afrah told reporters.

The attacker disguised himself in a police uniform to access the camp, Afrah said.

“Some of the police were already in lines, and others were gathering, when the man in police uniform entered and blew himself up,” said bystander Hussein Ali, describing the carnage.

Medics and ambulance teams rushed to take the wounded to hospital and collect the corpses.

Officers said the toll could have been far worse had the attacker detonated his bomb in the centre of the crowd.

“The bomber could have inflicted more casualties if he could have managed to reach the midpoint where most people were,” police officer Ibrahim Mohamed said.

Later Thursday, police attended the funerals of some of their colleagues killed in the attack.

The Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shabaab claimed responsibility and put the toll at 27 dead.

“It was martyrdom operation, in which the mujahedeen targeted the police academy camp,” a statement posted on a pro-Shabaab website read.

The Shabaab lost its foothold in Mogadishu in 2011 but has continued its fight, launching regular attacks on military, government and civilian targets in the capital and elsewhere.

In October, a huge truck bombing blamed on the Shabaab killed as many as 512 people, levelling buildings in the capital’s busy Kilometre 5 neighbourhood.

Since then the United States has increased the frequency of air strikes targeting jihadist leaders.

On November 13, the Pentagon said US forces had killed more than 40 Shabaab and Islamic State fighters over four days.

An operation against a Shabaab camp on November 21 killed more than 100 fighters, according to the US Africa Command.

The increase in US raids comes as AMISOM, the AU’s mission in Somalia, prepares to withdraw 1,000 troops from its 22,000-strong force, as part of plans to pull out all soldiers by December 2020.

Washington is worried the reduction will hamper efforts against jihadists.

A UN report last month warned that an Islamic State faction in the north of the country had grown significantly over the past year, carrying out attacks in the Puntland region and receiving some funding from Syria and Iraq.

AFP