Shabaab takes credit for suicide bombing at a Mogadishu cafe

Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, claimed responsibility for a deadly suicide bombing in Mogadishu earlier today that left several people dead at a popular cafe. 

In the middle of a packed restaurant not far from the headquarters of Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), the country’s main intelligence branch, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt. 

Estimates have varied, but local reporting has placed the total number of killed people between 4 and 10. This number includes civilians and uniformed members of Somalia’s security forces. According to local sources, the cafe was popular among members of the country’s security apparatus. 

Shabaab’s statement seemingly echoes these reports. In its initial statement via its Radio al Andalus, the group said that a “martyrdom operation targeted a grouping of officers, soldiers, and members of the apostate Somali state.” 

An additional claim released by its Shahada News Agency added that “15 members of the intelligence services, police, and government militias were killed in a martyrdom operation that targeted a grouping of them at Juba intersection in central Mogadishu.” 

The suicide bombing appears to have been part of a coordinated effort against elements of NISA. The al Qaeda branch also claimed responsibility today for two separate assassinations of NISA employees in Afgooye, a northern suburb of Mogadishu. 

However, the two claimed targeted killings have not been independently reported in Somali media as of the time of publishing. 

With Shabaab’s suicide bombing today, it has now conducted at least 14 suicide bombings in Somalia so far this year according to data compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal

This comes only a few days after the group utilized two suicide car bombs on a Somali base in the central state of Galmudug, which killed at least 30 soldiers and members of allied clan militias. 

Shabaab continues to be one of al Qaeda’s most effective branches. It maintains significant control over much of southern Somalia and retains the ability to strike in Mogadishu, Kenya, and against heavily fortified bases in both Somalia and Kenya.

Though its fortunes have ebbed and flowed over the past decade, it has weathered numerous offensives from an array of local, regional, and international actors, including the United States.

Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.

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