‘Somalis must stand united and fight’

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed vowed to step up the war against al-Shabab, when he addressed thousands at a rally in Mogadishu on Wednesday for the victims of the city’s worst bombing.

Protesters wearing red bands around their heads marched through the site of the truck bombing, a once bustling district, before gathering at a stadium where they chanted: “We are ready to fight.”

Mogadishu’s residents, although wearily accustomed to regular bombs and attacks by al-Shabab, have been outraged by the strike on Saturday, which left at least 276 dead and 300 wounded.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the deadly blast, but al-Shabab — which is aligned to al-Qaeda — carries out regular suicide bombings in the capital city in its bid to overthrow Somalia’s internationally backed government.

The president, better known by his nickname Farmajo, said the attack “shows that we have not done enough to stop Shabab”.

“If we don’t respond to this now, the time will surely come when pieces of flesh from all of us are being picked up off the ground. We need to stand up together and fight al-Shabab [fighters] who continue massacring our people,” he said.

But it was unclear what Farmajo — who came into office eight months ago vowing to eliminate al-Shabab — planned to do to stop these attacks.

Similar protests took place in large towns in southern and central Somalia — a rare display of public outrage against al-Shabab, which still controls some rural areas after being pushed out of the capital in 2011.

“This attack seems to have united the people because everyone is angry now and needs to fight violence. There are thousands of young men, women and children out there protesting,” said one demonstrator, Abdulahi Mohamed.

“I think the ones who have masterminded this attack will not spare anyone … We need to stop these guys before they kill all of us,” said another protester, Ibrahim Mamud.

The attack has overwhelmed Somalia’s fragile health system, and allies from the United States, Qatar, Turkey and Kenya have sent planeloads of medical supplies as well as doctors, with all except the US also evacuating some of the wounded. — AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

On Hodan Nalayeh’s brave legacy, and what it means to be Somali

Hodan Nalayeh was a Somali journalist famous for telling uplifting, positive stories about her country. She was killed in a terrorist attack in Kismayo in July 2019. A year later, the writer Ifrah Udgoon remembers how Nalayeh’s life and work shaped her own

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday