On February 23, a booby-trapped car exploded near the president palace in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. Soon after, a second booby-trapped car exploded near a hotel away from the palace, according to Reuters.
“So far we carried 18 dead people and 20 others injured from the blasts tonight,” Abdikadir Abdirahman, the director of Amin Ambulances, told Reuters.
Right after the first explosion, several armed fighters attacked a checkpoint near the presidential palace, according to the France-Press Agency (AFP). However, according to the Somali National News Agency (SONNA), Somalia’s Security Minister Mohamed Abukar Islow said that security forces had foiled the attack on the palace. He added that at least five attackers had been killed.
Moreover, Islow revealed that security forces had a prior intelligence about the possible of terrorist attacks and that they had been on high alert when the attack had happened.
According to Reuters, the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab group claimed responsibility for the attacks in the Somali capital in an official statement released by its military spokesman, Abdiasis Abu Musab.
“Two operations including two car bomb martyrdoms went on around the presidential palace and a national security forces’ base called Habar Kadija,” Abu Musab said in the statement.
Al-Shabaab launched a large attack on Mogadishu and even captured large parts of the city on August 23, 2010. Later on 6 August 2011, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali Army backed by the US recaptured the city. However, to this day the terrorist group is still controlling areas dangerously close the Somali capital.