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MARITIME ADVISORY – Terror Attack at Mogadishu Port

Key Points:

  • Terrorists attacked the entrance to Mogadishu Port and adjacent police complex.
  • At least 29 people were killed and 48 others injured.
  • Al Shabaab claimed to have been targeting the police, rather than the port, in the attack.

Situation Summary:
Terrorism: A suicide truck bombing outside Mogadishu’s seaport on 11 December 2016 killed at least 29 people and injured 48 others. The attack occurred at the entrance to the port, just 200 metres away from vessels anchored in the port. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack at the Turkish-run port over their radio station, Radio Andalus. In the attack, the terrorists drove a minibus packed with explosives into the police station and adjacent security checkpoint (the primary targets of their attack). Gunfire was heard after the explosions. Police reportedly fired warning shots to disperse crowds. The terror group said that they were trying to disrupt the upcoming national elections. Most of those killed were labourers or port workers.


Intrinsic Comment:
Al Shabaab continues to show the ability to penetrate the security apparatus in the Somali capital with regular frequency. It was thought that the combined Somali and the African Union forces were beginning to overcome the terrorist threat but regular setbacks such as this attack suggest otherwise. This attack has caused significant concern amongst the government, security forces, and the owners at the Turkish-run port; this was the first Al Shabaab attack to affect the port itself. It is not, however, the first attack on transport infrastructure. In July 2016, at least 13 people were killed after two car bomb attacks at the entrance to Mogadishu’s airport.

The attack will also cause extensive concern because the country is due to hold long-awaited elections on 28 December 2016. If security forces are unable to provide the necessary protection to the populous, it is unlikely that the results of the vote will have much validity or widespread involvement.


Recent Terror-Related Incidents in Mogadishu:

10 December 2016 – Two people were killed by a car bomb in the Sinkardher area of Mogadishu

29 November 2016 – Gunmen shot and killed two government soldiers in the Hodan district of Mogadishu.

27 November 2016 – A bomb attack at Suuqa Beerta (a market in Mogadishu) led to at least ten deaths and dozens more injuries.

24 November 2016 – A senior army officer and five others were killed by a bomb which was attached to the vehicle in which they were travelling.

07 November 2016 – Al Shabaab militants carried out a grenade attack on a security checkpoint in Bakaro Market but no fatalities were reported.


Security Advice:
Risk Ratings: Somalia: Severe – Political: Severe –
This latest attack on Mogadishu demonstrates the precarious security situation currently afflicting Somalia. Travellers should expect a more obvious security presence in the country in the lead up to the 28 December 2016 elections. Al Shabaab have already publicised their intentions to bring devastation to the country in the lead up to the vote which they view as illegitimate. Further suicide bombings should be expected at key infrastructural locations, bases for security forces, and government buildings. Random attacks are also a strong possibility.  Intrinsic would advise clients to employ enhanced security measures when visiting Somalia. This includes armed security and an armoured vehicle for all travel within Mogadishu and Somalia in general. The suggested level of security provision in Somaliland would be lower, however.

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