Shabaab suicide bombers attack new Somali president, Kenyan foreign minister

Shabaab, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia and East Africa, sent three suicide bombers to attack Somalia’s new president and Kenya’s foreign minister as they were speaking at a hotel in Mogadishu, the capital city. Although President Hassan Sheik Mohamud and Kenyan Foreign Minister Sam Ongeri were not hurt in the attack, seven people are reported to have been killed. Today was Mohamud’s first full day in office.

African Union forces guarding the Jazeera Palace Hotel opened fire on the Shabaab suicide bombers; two were shot and detonated their vests, another was killed before he could trigger his explosives, according to AMISOM, which also said that one of its soldiers were killed.

Shabaab claimed credit for the attack at its Twitter account, HSM Press Office (@HSMPress). “HSM intelligence confirmed that 7 UPDF [Ugandan] soldiers, 3 KDF [Kenyan] personnel, and 6 apostate militia were killed in the operation,” the first tweet said.

“May Allah accept the Shahaada of the brothers who carried out the operation and grant them the highest levels of Jannah. Ameen!,” @HSMPress continued.

In a final tweet, Shabaab said that it “will continue fighting until the very last invader is eliminated from our land.”

Yesterday, Shabaab issued a statement from its spokesman, Sheikh Ali Mahmud Rage, in which he said the election was illegitimate and called on Somalis “to continue supporting Jihad and the Mujahideen.”

The hotel where today’s suicide assault took place is in a high-security area in the city of Mogadishu, which was a Shabaab stronghold until AMISOM forces cleared the terror group from the capital last year. In the past, Shabaab has shown it can penetrate security at the heavily protected areas in the capital and carry out deadly attacks. The last such attack took place at the presidential palace on March 14 [see LWJ report, Shabaab suicide bomber strikes at presidential palace in Mogadishu].

Shabaab and its Kenyan branch, the Muslim Youth Center, formally joined al Qaeda in February. The east African terror groups were closely tied to al Qaeda for years prior, however; Shabaab leaders had openly proclaimed their allegiance to al Qaeda long before the official merger.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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