Somalia’s Al-Shabab Attacks United Nations Compound in Mogadishu


What’s scarier than Somali pirates? Somalia’s al-Shabab militants!

Al-Shabab staged a deadly assault on a United Nations compound in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Wednesday. A truck full of explosives was detonated at the front gates of the compound. After the explosion seven gunmen stormed the compound, triggering an hour long gunbattle between the militants and African Union peacekeepers and UN security guards.

At least 20 people were killed, including the seven terrorists and four of the security forces. The militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, calling the UN “a merchant of death.” Where were the UN staff? Most of them were found hiding in a secure bunker within the building.

Who are al-Shabab and why are they attacking UN compounds? Al-Shabab is a Somali Islamist insurgent group that has recently joined forces with al-Qaeda. The group emerged in 2006 as an offshoot of Somalia’s Union of Islamic Courts, a rival to the interim administration, which eventually splintered off into factions after being defeated by Ethiopian forces and the interim government. Al-Shabab is super into Sharia law and enjoys stoning to death women accused of adultery and amputating the hands of thieves.

Somali is kind of a hot mess of country. It has not had an effective national government for about 20 years and has been in a war like state for much of that time. The new president was elected in 2012 under a UN-brokered peace process. Al-Shabab was not a fan of this and denounced the process as being a foreign plot to control Somalia.

At one time the militant group ran much of southern Somalia but lost a lot of public support for refusing Western food aid during the 2011 famine. Now, the African Union, which is supporting government forces, has pretty much kicked al-Shabab out of most of the major towns and cities – including Mogadishu in August 2011 and the port of Kismayo in September 2012. But al-Shabab still carries out fairly frequent suicide attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere. Hence, the UN compound attack.

Fun fact: even al-Shabab is on Twitter. The group managed to send out some tweets during the attack.

Militants “are now in complete control of the entire compound and the battle is still ongoing,” al-Shabab said on Twitter during the attack. “Inside the compound are several clueless foreigners who were lulled into a false sense of security by a strong disinformation campaign!”


Via: The Independent

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