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Somalia says foreign country behind car bomb attack

December 30, 2019

The national security agency has said the bombing that killed 79 was "planned by a foreign country," without naming which nation. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The scene of a car bomb explosion in Mogadishu
Image: Reuters/F. Omar

Somalian national security agency NISA said on Monday that it believes the recent car bomb attack in the capital, Mogadishu, which killed at least 90 people, was organized from abroad. This would be highly unusual, as such attacks in Somalia are usually carried out by home-grown terrorist organization al-Shabab.

"We have submitted to the national authorities an initial report indicating that the massacre of Somali people in Mogadishu on December 28, 2019, was planned by a foreign country," NISA wrote on Twitter.

On Saturday, the city was rocked by its deadliest bombing in more than two years. Nearly 100 people were killed as a result of the explosion at the busy Ex-Control checkpoint in the northwest of Mogadishu. A further 150 victims were taken to local hospitals to be treated for injuries.

Al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked Islamist extremist group that has been carrying out an armed insurrection in Somalia since 2006, usually claims responsibility for such attacks, but it had said nothing about the bombing as of Monday.

On Sunday, US Africa Command, in coordination with the Somali government, launched a series of airstrikes against al-Shabab targets, saying afterward that "four terrorists" had been killed.

Two-year surge in al-Shabab violence

Although the extremist group has been active for over a decade, in the past two years the situation has become increasingly violent.

In October 2017, the deadliest attack in the country's history left 512 people dead and around 295 injured in Mogadishu.

The al-Shabab group was forced out of Mogadishu several years ago but continues to target high-profile areas such as checkpoints and hotels. Two weeks ago, the extremist outfit attacked a hotel popular with politicians, army officers and diplomats, killing five people.

Somalia has suffered through violent conflict since 1991, when clan warlords overthrew dictator Siad Barre and then turned on one another.

In recent months, the government has claimed that the security situation has improved, with increased security personnel and surveillance.

es/rc (AFP, dpa)