Al-Qaida-linked group behind Somali car bombings

BY newsdesk  January 1, 2014 at 5:45 PM EDT

An al-Qaida regional affiliate, known as al-Shabab, set off two bombs in Somalia, killing at least eight people. Here, Somali boys wave the militant group’s flag. Photo by Stringer/AFP/Getty Images

At least eight people were killed Wednesday when two car bombs exploded outside of a hotel in Somalia’s capital. An al-Qaida-linked militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Al-Shabab in September. Al-Shabab currently controls significant portions of Somalia and has conducted a number of attacks on Mogadishu, the capital city. Last week a remote-controlled bomb exploded in a Mogadishu restaurant, killing at least 10 people, The New York Times reported. Al-Shabab is believed to have carried out that attack as well.

While al-Shabab continues to be active in Somalia, it has also redefined itself as a transnational organization. Following the Kenyan mall attack, The Atlantic Council’s J.Peter Pham joined the PBS NewsHour to discuss the growing strength of al-Shabab. Pham said the Kenyan attack was “the first salvo of the group in its new incarnation as a transnational group attracting people not just from Somali backgrounds, but other backgrounds, and fighting as the regional affiliate of al-Qaida that it formally became a year ago.”