Sabahi (Washington, DC)

28 May 2014

Djibouti: Al-Shabaab Claims Responsibility for Djibouti Suicide Attack, Warns More to Come

Al-Shabaab on Tuesday (May 27th) claimed responsibility for a weekend suicide bombing at a restaurant in Djibouti popular with Westerners, saying it targeted French "crusaders", AFP reported.

The al-Qaeda-linked group also urged Djibouti to expel foreign forces and shut down the United States military's main base in Africa, or else face a wave of more serious attacks.

"As part of the ongoing jihad against the western-led crusade against Islam, Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen forces have on Saturday night carried out a successful operation against the coalition of western crusaders based in Djibouti," al-Shabaab said in a statement.

Al-Shabaab said the attack "targeted a restaurant frequented predominantly by French crusaders and their NATO allies from the United States, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, resulting in 35 casualties".

It said the main targets were French because of their "complicity in the massacres and persecution of our Muslim brothers in the Central African Republic and for their active role in training and equipping the apostate Djiboutian troops".

The attack is the first in Djibouti to be claimed by al-Shabaab since Djiboutian troops joined the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) force in 2011. The militants have already carried out attacks in Kenya and Uganda, who also contribute to the 22,000-strong AMISOM force.

Officials said three people -- a Turkish national and two suicide bombers, a man and woman -- died in the attack, although al-Shabaab's statement claimed that two "senior French commanders" were also killed.

Local authorities said seven French nationals, four Germans, three Spanish and several Djiboutians were injured, while the French Foreign Ministry has said its nationals were only lightly wounded.

"This attack is just the beginning; it is merely the preliminary response and what will soon follow -- should you refuse to desist -- will be far worse," al-Shabaab warned, calling on Djibouti to "pull your apostate troops out of Somalia immediately and expel all the crusaders".

"Failure to do so would incur far-reaching repercussions for your country, both in terms of your security and economy," it added.

Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh said the attack "will not change our determination to fight alongside the international community".

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