Two vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attacks struck central Mogadishu on Saturday, December 22, leaving at least 13 people dead and multiple others injured. The first blast reportedly occurred at a checkpoint near the National Theater and presidential palace (Villa Somalia), with the second explosion detonating nearby several minutes later. Those killed in the explosions include soldiers and television station staffers, as well as a prominent journalist, Awil Dihar Salad. The area was quickly cordoned off by emergency personnel, and a heightened security presence should continue to be expected in the area surrounding the attack sites in the coming hours. Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Al-Shabaab continues to control large zones in the south and center of the country and attacks from the group are frequent across Somalia, including in Mogadishu. The group often targets government officials and military infrastructure in a bid to topple the Western- and UN-backed government and impose its own strict interpretation of Islam in Somalia.
Individuals in Mogadishu are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid the area of the attack, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
The security environment in Somalia remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas with proper security protocols in place, other areas should be considered strictly off limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.
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