Shabaab continues to target Mogadishu with car bombs

At least 15 people were killed yesterday when Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, detonated a car bomb on one of Mogadishu’s busiest roads. The bombing was just the latest in a string of car bombs that have hit the Somali capital this week.

Those 15 people were killed when the car bomb detonated near a popular restaurant and hotel on Mogadishu’s Maka al Mukarama road. Another 17 people were left wounded. According to local sources, the majority of those killed and injured were dining in the restaurant at the time of the blast.

In a statement released via its Shahada News Agency, Shabaab said it was targeting “agents and officers of the security apparatus,” a common term for Somalia’s intelligence agency, and “former representatives in parliament.”

The latest bombing came just two days after another car bomb struck along the same road in Mogadishu. That attack left one civilian dead and two others wounded. A day prior, another car bombing killed a university lecturer in Mogadishu’s Hodan district.

Last Saturday, Shabaab militants launched a suicide assault on the compound of Somali’s Labor and Public Works and Reconstruction ministries. A suicide car bombing and subsequent assault left 15 people dead, including Somalia’s deputy labor minister.

Just two days prior to the suicide assault, a prominent civil engineer in Mogadishu was assassinated by a car bomb. While last Tuesday, a senior official with the Criminal Investigation Department of the Somali police was also assassinated by yet another car bomb in Mogadishu.

Earlier this month, another suicide assault targeted the popular Maka al Mukarama hotel in Mogadishu. According to Somali officials, at least 30 people were killed in the strike.

Shabaab has been resurgent in Somalia since losing ground to a combined African Union (AU) and Somali offensive in 2011. The jihadist group has slowly but methodically retaken several towns and villages that it lost in both central and southern Somalia – often after AU or Somali forces withdrew.

In addition, Shabaab remains a potent threat against both African Union and Somali military bases in central and southern Somalia. It also retains the ability to strike within heavily fortified areas of Mogadishu, as seen time and time again.