Al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda’s branch in Somalia, attempted to assassinate Special Envoy James Swan in a recent suicide bombing in Mogadishu.
According to reports, a female bomber blew herself up in the office of Mogadishu Mayor Abdirahman Omar Osman during a security meeting with several high-ranking officials.
Several attendees were wounded. Some seriously, including Osman himself who remains unconscious. according to local reports.
Hours before the blast, James Swan, the UN special representative for Somalia and an American diplomat, met with the mayor and his district commissioners in the building but left after his meeting, police and the UN confirmed.
“I deplore this heinous attack which not only demonstrates a violent disregard for the sanctity of human life, but also targets Somalis working to improve the lives of their fellow Somalis in the Mogadishu-Banadir region,” Swan said in a statement. “The United Nations stands with the people and government of Somalia in their rejection of such terrorist acts, and our thoughts are with the victims of this attack.”
In a brief statement released on its Shahada News Telegram channel, Shabaab made it clear that the bombing was an assassination attempt on Swan.
“The U.N. Special Envoy James Swan, an American, survived an assassination attempt and many government officials were killed and wounded, including Mogadishu’s mayor, after targeting them in an explosion,” Shabaab’s statement said.
Wednesday’s attack follows another a few days earlier during which a bomb went off near Mogadishu’s international airport, killing seventeen people. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for that attack as well.
The recent attack highlights both the ongoing struggle in Somalia to get militant groups under control, and the close American involvement in the country. Shabaab going after James Swan was not a coincidence. The al-Qaeda-aligned group knows full well that it is primarily the United States that is preventing them from overrunning the country to create a virtual terror state.