On Saturday, a massive attack rocked the capital of Somalia, killing 18 and wounding dozens. Beginning with a car bomb, witnesses said that gunfire could be heard from inside the Hotel Nasa-Hablod. According to Captain Mohamed Hussein during a phone interview with the Associated Press, the second blast was from a suicide attacker within the hotel and a third blast has been reported as well. The extremist group, Al-Shabaab, has claimed responsibility for the attack against the Nasa-Hablod hotel, a place frequented by Somali government officials and the Mogadishu elite.
By 9 pm local time on Saturday, Captain Hussein stated that the battle continues between Somali security forces and the extremists within the hotel though two members of Al-Shabaab are thought to have been killed in the ensuing gun battle.
This latest attack comes after the worst in Somali history just two weeks prior. A gigantic truck bomb exploded killing hundreds of people in the city center with the exact number still not known as many are still missing. Though no one has claimed responsibility, the consensus is that it was Al-Shabaab. According to an article in the Guardian, the truck, which many suppose was targeting the Somali foreign ministry, was stopped to be searched at a checkpoint when the driver suddenly accelerated, detonating the deadly cargo after crashing through the barrier, just outside of a hotel nearby.
Al-Shabaab vowed to ramp up its attacks since the election of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed who made promises to rid the nation of this violent Islamic extremist group. Despite an ongoing offensive aided in part by the United States, eradication of Al-Shabaab remains elusive.
Somalia continues to struggle with violent conflict since the early 1990’s when the UN peacekeeping forces finally withdrew partly due to the infamous Battle of Mogadishu where two U.S. Blackhawk helicopters were downed and 19 service members were killed with one being captured, CW3 Michael Durrant.
Progress has been made with the creation of parliament and democratic elections, however, despite continued help from neighboring Kenya and African Union forces as well as U.S. drone strikes and direct military action, Somalia remains locked in what seems an endless pattern of violence and upheaval. Billions of dollars continue to pour in from international aid groups and governments such as Kenya and the United States. Whether it is being well spent remains a question unanswered and the latest violence this month foretells continued death and destruction for the Somali people for the foreseeable future.
Featured image courtesy of AP