The attack by the Islamic extremist group at the popular Beach View Hotel and an adjacent beachfront restaurant in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on January 21 began with suicide car bombers, followed by gunmen firing indiscriminately into the crowds. The siege ended almost eight hours later after at least 26 people had died, including two young children and many recent college graduates.
Al-Shabab, or “the Youth,” seeks to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state encompassing Somalia and the rest of the Horn of Africa, including Kenya, Djibouti, and Ethiopia. In areas of Somalia that it already controls, the group imposes its strict version of sharia (Islamic law), prohibiting activities like listening to music or shaving beards.
Al-Shabab has carried out attacks in Somalia and throughout the region. In April 2015, al-Shabab gunman killed 148 students and injured at least 79 in an attack at Garissa University in Kenya. Al-Shabab was also responsible for the September 2013 attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya that killed 63 people and wounded more than 175.