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Terrorist Attack in Somalia

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The Al-Shabaab militant group of Somalia

The Al-Shabaab militant group of Somalia

via Flickr

via Flickr

The Al-Shabaab militant group of Somalia

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On October 14, two trucks in Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu exploded, killing hundreds of people in the busy area. The trucks were full of hundreds of kilograms of both military and homemade explosives, making the explosion what officials say to be the deadliest attack in decades. Although there is no confirmation on who was behind the attack, there is a high suspicion of the Al-Shabaab, a group that pledged their allegiance to the militant group Al-Qaeda in 2012.

The first bomb attack occurred when the truck was stopped at a checkpoint to be searched before suddenly accelerating through the barrier and exploding.  Unfortunately, the detonation occurred near a fuel tanker, making the effects of the bomb more serious. Soon after the explosion, the surviving witnesses searched through the ruins for family members and dug through the rubble to find bodies. At the same time, the smaller minivan was detained at a checkpoint and the driver was taken for interrogation; later the minivan exploded but had caused no casualties. On Saturday night, after both explosions, the death toll was reported to be 20 but surged to 270 on Sunday. On Monday, the number grew to 358. Over 260 victims have already been buried, with 160 bodies being so burned and unrecognizable that they were taken and buried by the government. Zainab Sharif, whose husband was killed in the explosion, commented on the experience by saying, “There’s nothing I can say. We have lost everything.”

Although the Al-Shabaab group has not yet confirmed that they were behind the attack, they are the main suspects because they have targeted and injured many Mogadishu citizens before. To avoid damaging their reputation, the group often avoids taking responsibility for bombings. An incentive Al-Shabaab could have had for the attack was shown in its statement against the US and Somali governments. When the Trump administration and the Somali President announced that they would begin to intensify military action on the group, Al-Shabaab responded that they would begin to launch more attacks on the Somali people. Through interrogation of the surviving driver, more information has been found in the details of the attack, including that the man behind the main bomb used to be a soldier for the Somali government until his hometown was hit by a joint attack from Somali and American forces. In this attack, troops were incorrectly informed that rebels lived in the town of Bariire and opened fire on its citizens. In the end, there were over 10 citizens dead, three of which were children. To avenge the deaths of the townspeople, the main driver joined the terrorist group. These investigations have also revealed that the original target was the busy Mogadishu airport compound where many peacekeeping corporations, including the African Union and the United Nations, meet. The smaller minivan was to explode at the guarded entrance to allow the bigger bomb to pass. The larger truck bomb was set off early because it was stopped at the checkpoint and because the smaller truck was detained, but was still effective in killing and injuring citizens.

Four days after the attack, tens of thousands of Somalis wearing red headbands marched through major cities in protest of the group that had been terrorizing the country for years. Businesses were shut down and the streets were filled with people as they chanted, “down with the enemy,” and “down Al-Shabaab”. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed spoke out about the situation with, “It is time for us to unite and I call for all Somalis to join hands together in the fight against the common enemy.” The Somali president has also set 3 days of mourning around the nation and is now encouraging all Somalis to donate blood to those hurt in the attack. Additionally, there have been multiple charities created to allow people outside of Somalia to donate, such charities including the Aamin Ambulance, UNICEF, AmeriCares, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The money earned from these programs will help fund medical supplies, rebuild buildings, and, overall, attempt to restore the lives of those affected by the attack.

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Terrorist Attack in Somalia