Somalia-based al-Shabaab often targets high-profile areas of Mogadishu, including hotels, military checkpoints and areas near the presidential palace. It has vowed to step up attacks after the recently elected government launched a new military offensive against it.
Al-Shabaab was the deadliest Islamist extremist group in Africa last year, killing more than 4,200 people, according to the Washington-based Africa Center for Strategic Studies.
The extremist group also faces a new military push from the US after President Donald Trump approved expanded operations, including air strikes. On Sunday, the US military in Africa said it conducted an air strike in southern Somalia that killed eight extremists at a rebel command and logistics camp.
Somalia’s president confirmed the air strike and said such attacks would disrupt the group’s ability to conduct new operations.
Pressure is growing on Somalia’s military to assume full security responsibilities for the country. The 22,000-member African Union multinational force, AMISOM, which has been supporting the fragile central government, plans to start withdrawing in 2018 and leave by the end of 2020.
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