IN BRIEF: Somalia as at 17/02/14

Since November 2013, four "bombs" have gone off in Mogadishu.

We all know there is a high threat to western, including British, interests from terrorism in Somalia, including Somaliland. We all know what attacks could be indiscriminate, whether it be in crowded places, at high-profile events, or at events involving government officials.  

But, attacks in Somalia have previously often targeted government officials and institutions, hotels, restaurants and public transport including the international airport. The latest incidents prove that car bombs are coming to prominence as the weapon of choice to achieve mass casualties. Whereas before they were not specifically targeting foreigners, it now appears that they are moving closer to the international airport with its ring of security, which sometimes gives a false impression of safety.

The incidents below highlight the threat posed by terrorism in Somalia and the capacity of terrorist groups to carry out attacks:

• 13 February 2014: A car bomb explosion near the gate of Mogadishu International Airport, with a number of casualties

• 1 January 2014: Two car bombs exploded at the Jazeera Hotel near Mogadishu International Airport, killing 11 people; there was also indirect fire into Mogadishu International Airport with no casualties currently reported

• 27 December 2013: a bomb exploded at a restaurant in Mogadishu, reportedly killing 11 people

• 8 November 2013: Six people were killed and scores injured after a car bomb attack on the Makkah Al-Mukarama Hotel in Mogadishu

Al Shabaab, a proscribed terrorist group, and other groups opposed to the Somali government continue to carry out these attacks in and around Mogadishu. Terrorist groups operating in Somalia have made threats against westerners and those working for western organisations in Somalia, including Somaliland. 

There is ongoing serious violence between opposing factions and the country should be considered as a high risk assignment even if with Africa Union (AU) as embeds.

Keep your grab bag close by you at all times and ensure you have emergency measures and contingency plans in place for any time of the day, as Al Shabaab strikes when least expected. Don't get caught out!

Note: The views here are those of the author and are personal reflections and safety advice. They are meant to assist journalists covering Somalia and are not meant to be negative in nature. INSI holds no responsibility for any ensuing problems as a result of this advice.


Photo: A Somali soldier walks near the destroyed building in Mogadishu, Somali , Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. Police in Somalia say a car bomb explosion near Mogadishu's airport has killed at least three people and wounded five. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)