Earlier today, Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, attacked an Italian military convoy in Mogadishu with a suicide car bombing. Two people, both civilians, were reported killed in the blast. Today’s suicide bombing is one of, if not the first, attack of its kind on European troops in Somalia.
According to local sources, an Italian military convoy operating under the European Union’s Training Mission (EUTM) in Somalia, was hit with a suicide car bomb as it drove through Mogadishu’s Hodan district. Two civilians were killed in the attack, while at least five others were left wounded. The European Union has yet to comment on the attack as of the time of publishing. However, Shabaab quickly claimed credit for the bombing through its Shahada News Telegram channel.
“Four officers from the European Union forces were killed and two military vehicles belonging to them were destroyed after targeting them in a martyrdom car bomb operation near the Defense Ministry headquarters in Mogadishu,” Shabaab said in its statement. While Shabaab claimed two vehicles were destroyed, only one armored vehicle was reported damaged in the attack. Shabaab is known to routinely inflate both casualty numbers and the damage inflicted in its attacks.
Only last month, another suicide car bombing occurred in the Hodan district. That bombing, which was on the district’s headquarters, killed at least six people and injured another 16. Just a week prior to that, Shabaab also launched a suicide car bombing outside the Hawlwadag district headquarters. Three people were killed in that explosion, while another 14 were wounded.
Shabaab has remained a persistent threat to the Somali government and neighboring countries despite efforts by both the African Union and the US to defeat it over the past decade. It also retains the ability to strike in more heavily fortified areas of Mogadishu. Over the past several years, the group has launched attacks that have killed hundreds of African Union forces from Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, and Ethiopia. These Shabaab assaults have forced African Union troops to withdraw from several cities and towns in southern Somalia. European Union troops have now also been targeted by the jihadist group.