July 1, 2024 | FDD's Long War Journal

Shabaab hits Djibouti military base with suicide bombing in central Somalia

July 1, 2024 | FDD's Long War Journal

Shabaab hits Djibouti military base with suicide bombing in central Somalia

Yesterday, Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, took responsibility for a suicide car bombing targeting Djiboutian and Somali troops at a military base in central Somalia. The blast was the 14th suicide bombing conducted by Shabaab so far this year.

The suicide car bombing targeted the Beledweyne headquarters of Djiboutian troops attached to the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) in the central Somali region of Hiraan. The base was in the process of being transferred to Somali government control when Shabaab struck the site.

At least four people, including three civilians and one Somali soldier, were killed in the blast. It is not immediately clear if any Djiboutian troops were among the casualties. Shabaab claimed to have killed and wounded over 29 people, though it often inflates casualty numbers for its attacks.

ATMIS troops are currently withdrawing additional troops as part of the African Union’s plan to end ATMIS’ mandate by the end of the year. Ethiopian troops also handed over another base in Hiraan in recent days, while Kenyan troops transitioned another base in southern Somalia.

Striking the ATMIS base as it was being handed over to the Somali National Army (SNA) sends obvious signals about the strength Shabaab still maintains in central Somalia despite two years of constant military pressure in the area. Additionally, the strike demonstrates the fragility of the ATMIS drawdown.

Yesterday’s suicide bombing is yet another harbinger of the future Somalia faces in a post-ATMIS space. The African Union, for its part, recognizes this threat and is actively working to produce a successor mission to ATMIS to continue providing much-needed security buffers to the Somali government in Mogadishu.

According to data compiled by FDD’s Long War Journal, yesterday’s blast marks at least the 14th suicide bombing conducted by Shabaab this year. This total is exactly half the number of suicide bombings Shabaab conducted by this time last year, indicating a sharp decline in such operations.

This total, however, is still on par for other years on record, particularly from 2016 to 2021, where Shabaab averaged around 30 suicide bombings a year.

Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD’s Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.


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