4 things you need to know about the Somali terror attacks

Terror group, Al-Shabaab, has attacked a popular restaurant in Lido Beach, in Mogadishu, Somalia and 20 people have been reported dead. Eyewitnesses say the terror group first set off a car bomb, after shooting at people on the beach front, at least five gunmen proceeded to the restaurant where a wedding reception and a graduation party was going on. A second car bomb then went off an hour later, while the terrorists were still inside the restaurant with government troops outside. However, the Somali government released a statement this morning saying its security officials finally took control of the restaurant in the early hours of today. They also confirmed that about 20 people were also injured in the attack but the statement, however, did not confirm whether or not the terror perpetrators were part of those killed. This attack comes almost a week after the al-Qaeda-linked terror group attacked Kenyan peace-keeping soldiers in Somalia.

Here are 4 things we can glean from the attacks:

Al-Shabaab is still very active

The two attacks this week and those that occurred at the end of last year seem to send out a message of defiance from the terror group, despite reports saying they have been defeated. It also proves they have not changed their modus operandi for attacking civilians. The attack comes few days after Kenya re-opened the Garissa University, months after the insurgent group unleashed carnage in the school, killing hundreds of students.

Is al-Shabaab trying to compete with ISIS?

These fresh attacks suggest al-Qaeda is trying to gain more ground in Africa, considering the steps ISIS has already taken in the region. The Islamic State’s West African Province/ISWAP/Boko haram was pronounced the most deadly terror organisation in 2015, followed by its head, ISIS. However, the increased spate of killings by al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM) coupled with the declining activities of Boko Haram in West Africa seem to tip the power scales in favour of al-Qaeda in Africa.

This is a huge setback for Somalia?

The attacks on African Union peace keeping soldiers and hotels in Somalia by Al-Shabaab also points to a top-up in its ranks. Despite reports that fighting for them has “lost its appeal” and that recruitment into the group has dwindled, these attacks suggest that all appeal may not be lost. It also throws into confusion the plans to develop Somalia.

Al-Qaeda targeting government officials and foreign diplomats in Africa

Al-Qaeda’s modus operandi in Africa now looks like a case of “cutting off the head.” Recent attacks in Bamako, Ouagadougou and now Mogadishu seem to be targeting government officials, primarily. The hotels and restaurants that have been destroyed are popular with these officials and foreign diplomats and it seems killing them has become an avenue for al-Qaeda to further its propaganda to create an Islamic republic in Africa.

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