Mogadishu, Somalia – Two massive explosions rocked the perimeter of Aden Adde International Airport in the capital city of Mogadishu today. Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) along with spokespersons from the United Nations peacekeeping force, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) confirmed earlier today that two large vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED) were in fact detonated at a security checkpoint near the entrance of the AMISOM gate adjacent to the Mogadishu International Airport. Initial reports indicate at least 16 dead, with that toll expected to rise due to the sheer power of the blast.
Reports from the blast site are indicating that two suicide bombers executed the attack with one slipped into a line of vehicles at the AMISOM main access point, the Medina Gate security checkpoint near the Aden Adde airport. During a physical inspection of vehicles by AMISOM security forces the first VBIED detonated its massive payload, killing three security forces and either killing or wounding scores of civilians within the bomb’s blast radius.
The second VBIED, 200 meters (650 feet) from the Media Gate attack, exploded in front of the well known Peace Hotel after coming under sustained heavy gunfire from both NISA and AMISOM security forces stationed near the hotel which is frequented by foreigners and journalists alike. Heavy gunfire could be heard just after the VBIED detonated yet no reports of gun battles between the perpetrators and security forces have been confirmed. Reports on social media flooded in saying that the entire front of the Peace Hotel lay in ruins as the blast was so powerful that the shockwave produced significant damage to houses and buildings several miles from the initial blast site. No immediate reports of causalities from the hotel blast site have been assessed as emergency crews are still sifting through the carnage.
The Somalia based al-Qaeda affiliated Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, more commonly known as Al-Shabaab, has seemed to claim responsibility for the attack. Spokesman for the terrorist group, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab declared that the Shabaab fighters targets for today’s attack included the Peace Hotel as well as AMISOM headquarters just inside the security perimeter of the Aden Adde Airport. A local journalist at the scene told al-Jazeera that the blast at the Peace Hotel all but destroyed most of the hotel as unconfirmed reports of foreigners staying at the hotel were being evacuated to AMISOM’s Halane base next to Mogadishu’s airport.
Feature Image courtesy of the AFP