Somalia: Al Shabaab suicide bomber strikes Mogadishu


Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab recruits walk down a street on Mar. 5, 2012 in the Deniile district of the Somalian capital, Mogadishu, following their graduation.


Mohamed Abdiwahab

NAIROBI, Kenya —  Villa Somalia is a hilltop quarter in Mogadishu. It is home to government ministries, the presidential palace, meeting halls and ministers' homes. It is guarded by African Union peacekeepers and Somali government soldiers.

To get right inside you have to pass through at least three separate roadblocks with metal booms, staggered Hescos and armed sentries. It's the most fortified and protected place in Mogadishu, outside of the AU military base and airport, it's the closest thing the city has to a Green Zone.

But none of that stopped an Al Shabaab suicide bomber who blew himself up inside Villa Somalia on Wednesday. The death toll is unclear, ranging from five (if you believe the government) to 17 (if you believe Al Shabaab).

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The significance of this attack is not the number of dead, but the location of the bombing, at the supposedly secure heart of the Transitional Federal Government and at a time when Mogadishu is gradually regaining a sense of normality.

Although Villa Somalia is an obvious target — GlobalPost was there a couple of years ago when mortars rained down — it should not be a possible one.

The fact that a suicide bomber can slip past all the defenses and detonate his explosives shows once again just how shaky the capital's security really is and reminds everyone that Al Shabaab may be down but is certainly not out.

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