Beginning in the early hours of 19 February 2021, significant clashes took place across the capital Mogadishu, prompting the cancellation of all flights at Aden Adde International Airport (HCMM/MGQ). At approximately 0115 local time on 19 February (2215 UTC on 18 February), government forces clashed with personal security guards of two former presidents at the Maida hotel near Daljirka Dahson Square in central Mogadishu. There were no initial reports of casualties following the incident. The clashes occurred ahead of a planned political rally despite a government ban on all public gatherings due to an increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country.

In spite of this ban, opposition leaders held a planned political rally at Daljirka Dahson Square later in the day to call for President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed to resign, as well as to protest the delay of national elections. Security forces fired live ammunition to disperse the demonstration, which was led by former Prime Minister Hassan Khaire and other major opposition figures. The protesters were marching along Airport Road to Daljirka Dahson Square when security forces opened fire. Unverified reports indicate that the gunfire lasted for approximately 30 minutes. Additionally, a rocket-propelled grenade reportedly detonated along a row of shops near the airport entrance. While potential casualty figures remain unknown, local sources indicate that multiple ambulances were seen entering the area. Unconfirmed reports also indicate that internet access is currently disrupted in Mogadishu and throughout southern Somalia for unknown reasons.

As clashes ensued, four mortar rounds struck a building at Aden Adde International Airport, causing significant damage to a building located near the entrance of the facility and injuring at least three people. The group responsible for the attack remains unknown, but former Prime Minister Khaire alleged that the shells were fired at protesters and landed inside the airport perimeter. Airport officials canceled all inbound and outbound flights at the airport due to the attack.