A new violent event shook Mogadishu (19 August), where Al-Shabaab terrorists detonated two car bombs led by suicide bombers outside the Hayat hotel, which was then attacked by an armed commando who opened fire on the men guarding the building, in order to storm in and take possession of it. A siege ensued, which ended only after about 30 hours; 21 people were killed – with the owner of the Hayat himself, officials and traditional leaders among them – and 117 wounded in the official toll (https://somaliguardian.com/news/somalia-news/somalias-longest-hotel-siege-comes-to-end-21-confirmed-dead-minister/).
The terrorist network Al Shabaab claimed the assault (https://en.radiodalsan.com/76613/2022/08/owner-of-popular-hotel-in-mogadishu-killed-dozen-injured-in-al-shabaab-attack-on-hotel/). Taking more than a day to overcome the terrorist commando and free the more than one hundred hostages held there makes the security event the longest and most complex in Somalia’s recent history and the first of its kind since President Mohamud took office. The event occurred against a sensitive target, as it is often chosen for official meetings. This highlights the scale of the threat carried by the terrorist network at a delicate moment for the institutional life of the Country and after the reaffirmation of the support, also external, for the fight against terrorism.
The event therefore now calls for a check on the readiness for dialogue with terrorism that had begun to be outlined with the new government and on the strategy of repression of violence that will continue in any case. Premier Barre did not hesitate to take ‘responsibility’ for the event (https://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/somalia-pm-we-take-responsibility-for-al-shabaab-attack-on-hayat-hotel), while reaffirming the calls for unity that this administration intends to continue to promote as its hallmark.
Noteworthy in this regard is the decision to proceed with the installation of former President Farmajo as a Life Member of Parliament (https://en.radiodalsan.com/76653/2022/08/former-president-farmaajo-sworn-in-as-permanent-mp/), despite some internal grumbling. Farmajo has been almost absent from Somali public life and is unlikely to return to play an active role in national politics any time soon, but the hope is that the at least formal co-presence of different faces will seal unity of purpose in the face of the challenges facing the country.