Shabaab, al Qaeda’s official branch in Somalia, has claimed responsibility for bombing the popular Jazeera hotel in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Sunday. The blast killed more than 10 people and wounded many others.
According to the BBC, the jihadist group used a truck packed with explosives to target the hotel. A local police officer told Reuters that the truck “rammed the gates of the hotel” before detonating and an aid worker said that at least 21 people were injured in the blast. A Shabaab spokesman told Reuters that the bombing was in response to “attacks and helicopter bombing against al Shabaab by AMISOM and the Somali government.”
AMISOM, or the African Union’s Mission in Somalia, recently forced Shabaab from two of its strongholds in southern Somalia. On July 22, AMISOM and Somali troops drove the jihadist group out of Bardere in the Gedo region. According to Somali media, the town was recaptured without a fight. Two days later, the town of Dinsor in the Bay region was also recaptured by a joint AMISOM-Somali mission. The two missions are part of a larger joint offensive to drive Shabaab out of its remaining strongholds in the country.
The bombing occurred a day after Shabaab assassinated a Somali MP and another official from the prime minister’s office in two separate attacks in Mogadishu.