A Shabaab suicide assault killed at least 21 people today at a police station in Beledweyne in Somalia’s Hiran governorate. A car laden with explosives was rammed into the gates of the police station by a Shabaab bomber, blasting open the gates and allowing other jihadists to storm the compound.
Four Djiboutian members of AMISOM, the African Union peacekeeping mission, were killed, along with seven Somali policemen. At least 10 Shabaab fighters were also killed when AMISOM and Somali troops responded, surrounding the police station and opening fire.
Shabaab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab labeled the attack “a victory.” Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud condemned the attack, calling it “stupid,” and added that “our enemies need to understand that these attacks do nothing to advance their cause, however misguided.”
This is not the first time that Shabaab has targeted the town of Beledweyne: a suicide bombing killed 16 people in an attack on a cafe popular with AMISOM troops just last month. Although some troops were killed, the majority of the casualties were civilians.
Despite a military offensive led by the African Union and backed by the US that began in 2011, Shabaab still controls vast areas of southern and central Somalia. During the offensive, Shabaab was driven from major cities and towns such as Mogadishu, Kismayo, and Baidoa, but towns such as Bulobarde and Barawe remain under the terror group’s control. The group has weathered the Ethiopian invasion, which began in December 2006 and ousted its predecessor, the Islamic Courts Union. More than six years later, Shabaab remains a capable force in southern Somalia and an integral part of al Qaeda’s global network.
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