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Somalia: Al-Shabab Islamist kills dozens in attack on army

July 25, 2023

A suicide bomber has killed between 20 and 30 soldiers and injured nearly 60 more in an attack on a military academy in Mogadishu. Al-Qaeda-affiliate al-Shabab has been trying to topple Somalia's government since 2007.

An ambulance in Mogadishu, Somalia, responding to a June 9, attack on a hotel in the capital
Though al-Shabab has been depleted, Islamist fighters continue to attack civilian and military targets in SomaliaImage: Hassan Ali Elmi/AFP/Getty Images

A lone Islamist suicide bomber from the al-Shabab militia killed scores of Somali soldiers Monday in an attack on the Jaalle Siyaad Military Academy in Mogadishu.

Conflicting reports say between 20 and 30 service members were killed in the attack and as many as 60 may have been injured.

Witnesses say the lone assailant entered the facility, where the Somali army's 14th infantry brigade was gathered, then detonated his explosive vest.

"I was at a nearby military camp when the blast occurred and we rushed to the scene, it was horrible," said Somali army member Mohamed Hassan, adding, "There are still investigations going on and the death toll may go higher."

Lawmakers from Somalia's parliament offered condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed and injured in the attack, which Deputy Speaker Abduahi Omar Abshirow called, "a national tragedy."

Another member of parliament, Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimu, said: "The victims were not ordinary youths, they were servicemen who stood to defend their country from the terrorists."

Al Shabab 'one of the chronic diseases' of Somalia

Al-Shabab, depleted Islamists still very deadly

Al-Shabab, an East African Islamist terror outfit affiliated with al-Qaeda, has been trying to overthrow Somalia's government in a bloody insurgency aimed at establishing a strict interpretation of Shariah law over the country since 2007.

Though al-Shabab fighters were ejected from Mogadishu in 2011, the group continues to launch violent attacks on civilian and military targets.

Earlier this month, for instance, an al-Shabab roadside bomb killed eight civilians in a small village 220 kilometers (140 miles) north of Mogadishu.

Other attacks have focused on high-profile targets in the capital.

In May, at least 54 Ugandan peacekeepers were killed in an attack on a military base, while Baidoa — one of the largest cities in the country — was under siege by the group for almost two weeks.

Last year, Somali government forces — backed by African Union (AU) forces and US air support — launched a military operation that dislodged most of the group's fighters from land they controlled.

Nevertheless, the group has stepped up attacks again as government forces regroup for the next phase of the operation.

One of the aims of the government military operation has been to dismantle the group's financial network, which includes the forced taxation of locals.

Al-Shabab, which claimed responsibility for Monday's attack, said it had killed 73 soldiers and injured 124, these figures are significantly higher than those provided so far by the army.

Somalia's 14th infantry brigade was created in the aftermath of the country's deadliest jihadist attack, when two trucks full of explosives were detonated in a crowded commercial district on October 14, 2017, killing at least 587 people and injuring nearly 300 more.

Al-Shabab extremists: Why is the group terrorizing Somalia?

js/kb (AFP, AP, Reuters)