MOGADISHU’S TOP HOTEL TARGETED BY TERRORISTS
(Posted 02nd January 2014)
The Jazeera Hotel near the airport of Mogadishu was yesterday targeted by Islamic radicals, a group of which attempted to break through the security barrier with at least one vehicle wired as a car bomb.
Airline sources from Mogadishu have confirmed that Al Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack in which they clearly hoped to inflict a massacre on New Year’s Day revelers who had come to the hotel. The car was reportedly stopped by security personnel deployed at the hotel, gunfire was exchanged and the car then reportedly blown up at the gate without thankfully reaching the building itself where an explosion could have cause massive damage and loss of life. Less than two weeks ago was a popular restaurant in downtown Mogadishu targeted by a Al Shabab and a dozen people were killed, including 6 soldiers stationed in Somalia. The airport based source was unable to confirm the number of attackers or how many of them died in their attempt to blow up the hotel, though did mention that the rumours which swept through the city talked of at least half a dozen dead by either the car bomb or the shootout.
While Al Shabab was driven out of Somalia’s capital last year with substantial losses, and saw stronghold after stronghold being liberated by the combined Ugandan, Burundian, Kenyan and Ethiopian forces, they have managed to hold on to some territory as the military push to finish the job has inexplicably slowed down. More recent developments in Eastern Congo, the Central African Republic and of course in Southern Sudan could mean that the main coalition partners in Somalia against Al Shabab may have taken their eyes off the ball and in particular Uganda’s participation could have taken a moral knock after top commanders were accused to enriching themselves while deployed in Somalia.
The terror attack on New Year’s Day for sure is a stark reminder that the dangers of an Al Shabab revival in Somalia remain real and that there is a job to be finished to return the country to a lasting peace, united in its original borders – an added challenge considering the establishment of breakaway territories which are now demanding their own recognition and independence and are opposed to return to the fold of a federal state. Watch this space.