Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab has claimed responsibility for a string of attacks in the capital Mogadishu and warned that violence will intensify during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan.
“Mujahedeen fighters carried out operations inside Mogadishu killing several of the apostate government soldiers,” Shebab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab told AFP on Tuesday.
He warned soldiers that the group will “target them on the streets and inside their bases.”
Five blasts were reported on Monday, including a roadside bomb that killed at least two people when it ripped through a market busy with shoppers buying food to celebrate the breaking of the Ramadan fast with their families at sunset.
A car bomb later killed a government official, while three other blasts at checkpoints killed at least one soldier.
“We call on the apostate soldiers to stay away from the streets otherwise we will kill them one by one,” Musab said.
The threats echoed warnings made last week by the Shebab commander in Mogadishu, Sheikh Ali Mohamed Hussein, who said the capital would become the “frontline” for assaults.
Shebab fighters fled fixed positions in Mogadishu three years ago and have since lost most large towns to a 22,000-strong UN-backed African Union force, fighting alongside government soldiers.
But they still hold sway in vast swathes of the rural hinterland from which they regularly launch guerrilla raids.
Recent Shebab attacks in Somalia have targeted key areas of government, or the security forces, in an apparent bid to discredit claims by the authorities and AU troops that they are winning the war.
Government security officer Osman Ali said a transport ministry worker was killed on Monday when a bomb hidden beneath his car “exploded as he drove off”.
In a separate attack, witnesses said one soldier was killed when grenades were hurled at checkpoint, hours after another soldier was shot dead in the capital’s key commercial centre, Bakara Market.
“Men armed with grenades attacked a military post.There was heavy blast followed by gunfire,” a witness, Hussein Ahmed, said.
Security has been boosted in the capital, and Somali President Hassan Sheik Mohamud gave a televised address at the start of Ramadan saying his government would do all it could to stop attacks.