On 24 May, a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) detonated outside the legislative building in downtown Mogadishu and was followed by an assault by al-Shabaab militants who gained entry into a section of the building. The attack killed at least 10 people.
Up to one hundred legislators present at a session of the House of the People were evacuated to safety with one MP sustaining a gunshot on his hand. Within minutes of the attack, the Somali National Army (SNA), the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces deployed to the scene alongside emergency medical personnel.
The attack was reminiscent of the February complex attack on the Somali Presidential Palace. Al-Shabaab’s use of VBIEDs at facility gates ahead of an assault element has become a hallmark of its complex attack methods. In September 2010, al-Shabaab breached the main gate of Mogadishu’s airport with this method but failed to make it far due to smartly placed machine gun positions over-watching the interior of the gate.
Al-Shabaab probably hasn’t achieved the level of success it desires with these attacks. Al-Shabaab seems intent on seizing a government building and causing mass casualties. Al-Shabaab will likely attempt a similar attack against another high-profile target in Mogadishu in the coming months.
Insecurity is certainly on the rise in the Mogadishu and accusations are being made that senior Somali security officials are assisting al-Shabaab. Unfortunately the Somali government seems to struggle balancing its internal political battles with the one against al-Shabaab. This has not been Mogadishu’s year.