A suicide bombing killed three people at a Turkish military base in Somalia last week. Al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked group active in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the attack.
The bomber pretended to be a trainee at the Turkish military base in Somalia, located in the capital Mogadishu. Security guards shot the bomber, creating an explosion that killed the bomber and two Somali civilians, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Police Captain Mohamed Hussein said the attempted bombing occurred as new military cadets were doing their morning drills.
Turkey has a military presence in numerous countries across the greater Middle East, including in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Qatar. In Somalia, Turkey maintains one of its largest overseas bases. Turkey trains Somali soldiers there and also conducts anti-piracy operations under the auspices of the UN off the Horn of Africa. The base opened in 2017.
The Turkish base also gives Turkish companies access to Mogadishu’s sea ports and the Turkish military a foothold in the strategically located country.
Al-Shabab has fought the Somali state for years, making Turkey a target for them, given its strong backing of the government. This was not the first time al-Shabab has attacked the Turkish presence in the country. In 2013, al-Shabab claimed a bombing of the Turkish Embassy in Mogadishu. The group said it carried out the 2013 attack due to Turkey’s support for the “apostate regime” in the country.
In December 2019, two Turkish nationals were among 80 people killed in a suicide truck bomb attack on a security checkpoint in Mogadishu.
Al-Shabab controls parts of southern and central Somalia and often targets the capital with suicide bombings.
Al-Shabab means The Youth in Arabic. It emerged in Somalia as the radical youth wing of the now-defunct Union of Islamic Courts, which controlled Mogadishu in 2006 before being forced out by Ethiopian forces.
There are also reports of foreign fighters travelling to Somalia to fight with al-Shabab, arriving from neighbouring countries as well as from the US and Europe. The group, which claims to be linked with Al Qaida, is believed to have between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters.
Al-Shabab reportedly advocates the Saudi-inspired Wahhabi version of Islam, while most Somalis are Sufis, and the group has imposed a strict version of Sharia in areas under its control.
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