Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Somalia, including kidnapping. 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 proscribed terrorist group, and other groups opposed to the Somali government continue to carry out attacks in and around Mogadishu on an almost daily basis. Terrorist groups operating in Somalia have made threats against westerners and those working for western organisations in Somalia, including Somaliland. There is ongoing serious violence between opposing factions.

Attacks of varying sizes are a very frequent occurrence in Somalia. Attacks have previously been targeted at government officials and institutions, hotels, restaurants and public transport including the international airport. Further attacks could occur at any time. Civilians of all ages have been killed in fighting, which often involves heavy weapons.

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.

Recent major attacks have included:

  • 1 June 2018 Al Shabaab offensive against Mogokori, Hiran Province (South Central Somalia) reportedly killed 22. The town was quickly retaken.
  • 4 x mortar attacks in Mogadishu (12 May, 8 May, 1 March and 1 January) killing a total of 4
  • 6 April 2018 2 vehicle borne IEDs on Airport Road, killing 6 people.
  • 1 April 2018 a simultaneous coordinated attack on 4 AMISON bases in Lower Shabelle, killing 4 Ugandan peacekeeping troops and 36 Al Shabaab.
  • 25 March 2018 a vehicle borne IED on Al Makarama Road, killing 5 people.
  • 22 March 2018 a vehicle borne IED on Al Makarama Road, killing 14 people.
  • 1 March 2018 indirect fire in vicinity of Mogadishu stadium, killing 3 people.
  • 23 February 2018 a vehicle borne IED in the vicinity of NISA headquarters and a complex attack in the vicinity of the Syl Hotel, killing at least 18 people.
  • 14 October 2017 a large truck bomb exploded in central Mogadishu (Hodan District) near the Safari Hotel. This was Somalia’s deadliest ever terror attack with over 500 killed and hundreds more injured.
  • There were 38 significant incidents in Mogadishu in 2017.

There have been multiple attacks against hotels throughout Somalia including Mogadishu. Due to their use by government officials, hotels are considered legitimate targets by terrorist groups.

There have been no major terrorist attacks in Somaliland since 2008.


There is a threat of kidnapping throughout Somalia, including in regions bordering Kenya and Ethiopia, and in Somaliland. 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 over the last 10 years and some have been killed. Those engaged in humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors are viewed as legitimate targets. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release.

If you’re 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 increases the risk of further hostage taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.