Somalia, al-Shabaab strikes again in the heart of Mogadishu
On November 27th, a commando from al-Shabaab, the main jihadist organization active in the Horn of Africa, attacked Villa Rose, one of the most important hotels in downtown Mogadishu at a short distance from the presidential palace. A loud explosion (possibly caused by suicide bombers wearing explosive belts) was followed by a 12-hour-long violent firefight between the terrorist commando and Somali security forces. The final death toll is four dead and a dozen wounded, including Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Mohamed Ahmed. The attack is just the latest sign of renewed al-Shabaab activism in response to counter-terrorism policies put in place by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who was re-elected to a second term this year in May. In fact, the jihadist group has launched an extensive campaign of attacks across the country in the last few months in an attempt to destabilize the government and slow down the already lengthy and difficult path of national democratic transition. In this case, many of these attacks have targeted the capital city of Mogadishu, reflecting the presence of structured cells within the urban area, and in major cities in the south, starting with the port of Kisimayo, fundamental to the coal and khat trade that is crucial to al-Shabaab’s funding.