The spate of suicide attacks in Mogadishu – three in two weeks – could be an indicator that the gains after recent offensives were only temporary. Just Monday, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) reported that additional districts in the Somali capital had been cleared of al Shabaab militants. Al Shabaab, a radical Islamist group with ties to al Qaeda, already controls much of southern and central Somalia.
Today, an al Shabaab female suicide bomber killed the Somali Interior Minister. Reportedly, she had been staying with him in his home near the KM4 intersection in Mogadishu. The AMISOM headquarters are nearby, and KM4 serves as a key transit point for AMISOM and Somali government troops and supplies.
Yesterday, two al Shabaab suicide bombers attacked the main seaport. The attack killed one civilian and injured three AMISOM peacekeepers.
And on May 30, al Shabaab attacked AMISOM’s Shakala base along Makka al Mukarama Road, the main supply route. The attempted suicide attack killed two AMISOM peacekeepers and injured four others.
The AMISOM peacekeeping force, now an estimated 9,100 troops, is still shy of its mandated 12,000 troops. The force supports the weak UN-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Recent offensives increased the areas under the Somali government’s control, but there was not a comparative increase in government or AMISOM troops to hold the gains.
As changes sweep through the Arab world and demand attention, Somalia cannot be forgotten.
Katherine Zimmerman is a Critical Threats Project Analyst and Gulf of Aden Team Lead at AEI.