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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Somalia: deadly explosion of two booby-trapped cars in Mogadishu

by Agence France-Presse

Somalia: deadly explosion of two booby-trapped cars in Mogadishu

Translated Tuesday 7 November 2017, by Jane Swingler

Sunday 29 October 2017

On Saturday, less than two weeks after the deadliest attack in Somalia’s history, two booby-trapped vehicles exploded in rapid succession near a hotel in Mogadishu. The death toll for the attack, claimed by the Somalian Islamist group Al-Shabaab, has reached 27.

“The explosion of a booby-trapped car at the entrance of the Nasa Hablod hotel was followed by gunfire. We do not have details but it appears to have been a co-ordinated attack. A booby-trapped minibus also exploded at a nearby crossroads,” reported Ibrahim Mohamed, a police official. “There are victims but we do not yet have exact numbers,” explained the Security Chief on Saturday.

“I saw four dead bodies being taken away and there were ambulances racing to the scene,” a taxi driver told us. Another witness said that he had seen the body of a high-ranking police officer, whose car was parked near the hotel entrance when the explosion took place. Witnesses confirmed that gunfire had followed the two explosions. The area was sealed off by security forces. The militant Islamist group al-Shabaab often uses the strategy of setting off booby-trapped vehicles at the entrance of hotels or public buildings before launching a commando attack inside the building in order to reach the maximum number of victims.

“We can hear gunfire but it is difficult to know who is involved. The (security) forces have sealed off the building and no one can get near,” explained Abdulahi Nure, a witness. A pro-Shabaab website, quoting Radio Andalus, the Al-Shabaab station, stated, “Mujahideen fighters are inside the Nasa Hablod hotel, where high-ranking apostates are staying.” One witness, a tuk-tuk driver named Mohamed Ahmed Mohamud, stated, “I was driving by the hotel. A soldier was talking to the driver of a small luxury car and there was an explosion. There were two women in the car but I don’t know what happened to them.”

The siege was finally brought to an end in the early hours of Sunday morning, following a security forces attack.

“Five armed men got into the hotel. Two of them were killed and the other three were captured,” said Abdiasiz Ali Ibrahim, the Security Ministry spokesperson, the next morning.

Who has claimed this act?

The Islamist group Al-Shabaab, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda, claimed the explosions and the Nasa Hablod hotel attack, according to a pro-Shabaab website, quoting Radio Andalus, the Al-Shabaab station.

The Somalian president, Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” Mohamed, condemned this attack in a statement. “Such atrocities will never deter us, nor will they discourage us from fighting terrorists.”

However, the frequency of attacks over these past months, with the use of increasingly powerful explosives has highlighted crucial disagreements among those responsible for the country’s security.

In addition to the dismissal of the Intelligence and police chiefs on Sunday, the Defence Minister and the Chief of Staff both resigned several days before the tragedy of 14 October.

The Chief of Staff has since been replaced by General Abdi Jama Warsame but the Defence post has so far not been filled.

Al-Shabaab swore to bring down Somalia’s fragile central government, which is supported by the international community and 22,000 men from the African Union Peacekeeping force.

The group was driven out of Mogadishu in August 2011 and as a result lost their most important bastion. However, they maintain control of vast rural areas from where they carry out guerrilla operations and suicide attacks, often in the capital and against Somalian or foreign military bases.

358 dead on 14 October
This attack comes exactly two weeks after the attack on 14 October, which used a booby-trapped lorry in the centre of Mogadishu. It was the deadliest attack in Somalia’s history, with 358 dead and 228 wounded. No group claimed this attack but the authorities are in no doubt that it was the work of Al-Shabaab, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda.

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