Somalia, the biggest carnage since 2007 shocks Mogadishu

The extreme gravity of the double attack which last Saturday has ravaged Mogadishu is summed up in a tweet by Aamin Ambulance, the only free ambulance service in the Somali capital involved in rescue operations.

Civilians evacuate from the scene of an explosion in KM4 street in the Hodan district of Mogadishu, Somalia October 14, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
Civilians evacuate from the scene of an explosion in KM4 street in the Hodan district of Mogadishu, Somalia October 14, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

In the tweet, which also shows some photos of the frightening attack, Aamin Ambulance writes: " In our 10 year experience as the first responder in #Mogadishu, we haven't seen anything like this".

And the horror faced by ambulance service doctors is something that can hardly be described: 231 civilians torn apart in a devastating double suicide attack with two bomb trucks blown up in the central Hodan neighbourhood, facing at the Safari Hotel, located near the Foreign Ministry and some embassies, including Qatar ones, which was severely damaged.

However, the victims' balance seems to be going to rise, as many of the 275 injured in the two attacks are seriously ill. Mogadishu Police explained that the two trucks exploded while being followed to be controlled as "suspicious".

There is still no claim of responsibility

Somalia's Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab, responsible for continuing attacks in the capital and other cities under government control, have not yet claimed the attack. Mogadishu's executive did not hesitate to attribute al-Shaabab the paternity of the massacre defining it as "a national disaster", while President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo proclaimed three days of national mourning and urged to donate blood to help family members of the victims.

Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire said that "They have targeted the most populated area in Mogadishu, killing only civilians", while the Minister of Information, Abdirahman Omar Osman, said that "It was the largest blast the city had seen".

It is also important to point out that the attack occurred two days after the head of the of the African Military Command in Africa (AFRICOM) was in Mogadishu to meet Somalia’s president, and two days after the country’s defence minister, Abdirashid Abdullahi Mohamed, and army chief, General Mohamed Ahmed Jimale, resigned for undisclosed reasons.

The United States promptly condemned the afflict by saying that "Such cowardly attacks reinvigorate the commitment of the United States to assist our Somali and African Union partners to combat the scourge of terrorism".

Since last March, after powers approved by US President Donald Trump, allowing the US Department of Defence to take legal action against the Somali extremist group, US raids have been intensified with drones against al-Shabaab terrorists.

Saturday's double attack is proof that al-Shabaab, officially affiliated with al-Qaeda since February 2012, has maintained the ability to carry out large-scale attacks against civilian targets in Mogadishu, in addition to carrying out well-planned attacks on military targets across southern Somalia.

Strategic links with rural areas

Michael Horton, chief analyst for Arab issues at the Jamestown Foundation, believes al-Shabaab's resilience is largely due to the ties established by the group in rural Somalia. According to the researcher, these links give the terrorist organization a strategic depth and provide it with the ability to operate in full autonomy, as well as being able to find support and refuge in the remote areas of the country, in particular the dense riverine forests along the Somali-Kenyan border.

The Mogadishu blood bath was not unexpected at all. It is enough to consider that in its latest monthly update on the situation of conflicts in Africa, the Armed conflict location and event data project (Acled) had dedicated a special focus to the alarming increase in the number of violence episodes since the beginning of the year Somalia, corresponding to more than twice that recorded in South Sudan, battered by the civil war.

As was easily foreseeable, the group responsible for most 1,537 episodes of violence is al-Shabaab, who in all probability two days ago has launched the deadliest single attack in Somalia since the beginning of 2007. When after the collapse of the Union of Courts Islamic, remained the only force on the ground to coordinate the Islamic insurrection in the Horn of Africa nation. Eleven long years of terror culminated in the carnage of two days ago in Mogadishu.

@afrofocus

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