Al-Shabaab Attacks Escalate As Somalia Prepares For National Elections

(New York, N.Y.) – As Somalis prepare for only their third general election in 60 years, al-Shabaab has been escalating its attacks throughout the country. More than a dozen deadly attacks were reported over the last week alone, underscoring al-Shabaab’s unrelenting campaign of violence despite ongoing U.S. airstrikes on the terrorist group.

On November 1, Somalia will hold parliamentary elections, and the presidential election is expected in early 2021. Fears of al-Shabaab attacks disrupting the elections stem from past violence that targeted delegates who voted in previous parliamentary elections. Al-Shabaab militants are responsible for the deaths of dozens of past delegates.

In 2012, Somalia held its first presidential election in 45 years, resulting in the creation of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS). African Union and FGS forces have had some success in ousting al-Shabaab from the country’s major cities, and the FGS now maintains control of the capital, Mogadishu. However, al-Shabaab is still able to maintain an operational capability in Mogadishu and seek refuge in rural areas and along the Kenya-Ethiopia border. In addition to al-Shabaab, other clan militias and Islamist militant groups continue to dominate in large areas in the rest of the country. These groups continue to clash with each other as well as with government forces.

One such incident came on December 11, 2016, when a suicide truck bomber drove into Somalia’s largest port in Mogadishu and detonated his explosives, killing 29 people and wounding 48 others. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that it sought to disrupt the country’s parliamentary elections scheduled for the end of that month. Al-Shabaab’s military operations spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab claimed the targets of the attack were police officers stationed at the port “because [the officers] had been trained to provide security at [the] so-called elections.” Previously, al-Shabaab has accused presidential and parliamentary candidates in Somalia of being puppets of Western powers.

To read CEP’s Al-Shabaab resource, please click here.

To read CEP’s Somalia resource, please click here.

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