Terrorism

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Somalia, including kidnapping.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

There’s a high threat to Western, including British, interests in Somalia, including Somaliland. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in crowded places, high-profile events, events involving government officials and in places visited by foreigners, such as hotels and restaurants.

Al Shabaab, a terrorist group proscribed in the UK, and other groups opposed to the Somali government continue to carry out frequent attacks in and around Mogadishu. Terrorist groups operating in Somalia have made threats against Westerners and those working for Western organisations in Somalia, including Somaliland. Methods of attack have included armed assaults, suicide bombings, car bombings, explosions, gun attacks, mortar attacks, improvised explosive devices and the bombing of a commercial aircraft. Attacks have previously been targeted at government officials and institutions, local and international security forces, hotels, restaurants and public transport including the international airport. Further attacks could occur at any time.

Terrorist attacks targeting places frequented by civilians are commonplace and indiscriminate. Notable attacks include:

  • on 19 August 2022, there was an attack at the Hayat Hotel in central Mogadishu. It was reported that 21 were killed and 117 were injured.
  • on 22 April 2022, there was a bomb attack at the Pescatore Seafood Restaurant in south Mogadishu. It was reported that 8 were killed and 27 injured.
  • on 19 February 2022, there was a bomb attack inside Hassan Dhiif restaurant in the city of Beledweyne. It was reported that 18 were killed and 30 injured.
  • on 15 April 2021, there was a bomb attack on a minibus travelling between Mogadishu and Jowhar. It was reported that at least 17 people were killed and more were injured.
  • on 16 August 2020, there was an attack on the Elite Hotel in central Mogadishu. It was reported that 15 people were killed and at least 15 injured. The hotel is popular with foreigners.

There have been no major terrorist attacks in Somaliland since 2008. While attacks occur less frequently in Somaliland, terrorists are still very likely to try to carry out attacks.

The risk of attacks in Somalia, including Somaliland, may be further heightened during religious holidays.

Kidnaps

There is a threat of kidnapping throughout Somalia, including in regions bordering Kenya and Ethiopia, the tri-border area, and in Somaliland. Following recent incursions, it is likely there is a heightened risk of future terrorist activity across the Ethiopia-Somalia border, including kidnapping. Both terrorists and criminal groups, including piracy groups, are involved in hostage-taking. A number of Western nationals, including British nationals, have been kidnapped in Somalia and some have been killed. Those engaged in humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors are viewed as legitimate targets. If you are kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release.

If you are working or travelling in Somalia, including in Somaliland, you should be aware of the risk of kidnapping. You should maintain a high level of vigilance at all times, including when travelling, in crowded public places, camps for displaced people, religious gatherings and places of worship, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants and transport hubs. You should make sure you have carefully considered the threat and have reasonable, proportionate mitigation measures in place.

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage-takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners builds the capability of terrorist groups and finances their activities. This can, in turn, increase the risk of further hostage taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) makes payments to terrorists illegal.

There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.