Somalia: Mogadishu under security lockdown as airlines suspend flights following immanent terror warning

Aden Abdulle Mogadishu International Airport
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Fly Dubai abruptly halted all flights to Mogadishu on Tuesday in response to a chilling alert from the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. The warning sounded the alarm about imminent al-Shabaab terrorist strikes targeting multiple sites in Somalia’s capital, including Aden Adde International Airport.

As fears grip the city, uncertainty looms over whether these airlines will resume services to Mogadishu on Wednesday. Turkish Airlines and Fly Dubai, known for their direct routes, halted operations, while Qatar Airways diverted a flight from Djibouti midway upon receiving the ominous alert.

The cancellation of Turkish Airlines flight TK647, a routine morning service to Mogadishu, further underscores the gravity of the security threat. Other airliners were rerouted midair. Although no official reason was provided, the move aligns with the alarming intelligence furnished by U.S. officials. The advisory highlighted the potential for terrorist plots involving vehicle-borne explosives, mortar attacks, suicide bombings, and direct assaults by al-Shabaab militants on government-held areas.

The al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab has carried out scores of deadly attacks in its insurgency aimed at overthrowing Somalia’s government. The group appears to be gaining in strength.

The airport in Mogadishu has been a recurrent target for al-Shabab infiltration over the years. In March 2022, gunmen affiliated with the group breached a section of the airport, resulting in casualties, including foreign nationals.

In a separate incident in February 2016, an al-Shabab operative carrying a laptop bomb boarded a flight with the intent of causing destruction. The explosion occurred mid-flight, ejecting the perpetrator from the aircraft and resulting in his death.

The U.S. warning amplifies the tension already palpable in Mogadishu, heightened by Monday night’s mortar strikes near the presidential palace. Despite the anxiety gripping the capital, Somalia’s Federal Government has yet to issue a public statement addressing the high-level terror alert.

Coinciding with the heightened security concerns, the planned handover of Mahad Salad, recently ousted as director of Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), adds to the unease gripping the region.

The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab insurgency has unleashed a wave of deadly attacks aimed at toppling Somalia’s government and imposing its draconian interpretation of Islamic law. With control over vast swathes of rural territories in southern and central Somalia, the militant group poses a grave and imminent threat to stability and security in the region.

Related Posts