Somalia’s Hassan Mohamud declares all-out war on Al-Shabaab after blasts

Explosions in Mogadishu

A building badly damaged by the the two explosions that targeted the federal Ministry of Education near Zoobe Junction in Mogadishu, on 29 October 2022. 

Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has promised a relentless war on Al-Shabaab, a response he says will pay the militants in their own currency of violence.

Mohamud spoke on Sunday after visiting the scene of deadly twin explosions a day earlier, a blast that killed more than 100 people and wounded at least 300 others.

He described the militants as bereft of morals and urged his troops to pursue the attackers to the very end.

“Today's cruel and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent people by the morally bankrupt and criminal Al-Shabab group cannot discourage us,” he said after receiving a briefing on the bombings.

“This attack will further strengthen our resolve to defeat them once and for all. Our government and brave people will continue to defend Somalia against evil.”

His speech was meant to show the government’s resolve at beating down a problem that has punctuated Somalia’s security scene since 2007.

But this attack also came on the month in which Mogadishu was marking five years since another car bombing, christened Somalia’s ‘9/11’, left more than 570 people dead.

After touring the site of the latest explosion, near Zoobe Juntion and adjacent to the Federal Ministry of Education, Mohamud declared “the war is on.”

“The country is at war at the moment, a war which will not stop until these criminals are all finished. Our heroic troops are committed to it and I want to assure you we will not stop.”

Somalia has had recent successes against Shabaabs, routing the fighters from villages in an unprecedented collaboration between Somali national forces and volunteering vigilantes.

Yet this explosion was also the biggest in the Somali capital since a similar bloodbath left more than 1000 people injured in October 2017.

Having seen the extent of the devastation caused by two blasts that were only minutes apart, President Mohamud called it ‘Zoobe Number 2.’

“At least 100 must have died and over 300 wounded,” Mohamud told the media, predicting that the casualties can grow much higher.

Immediate reports indicated that the casualties included Mohamed Issa Hassan, alias Koona, a TV journalist, who previously worked for Shabelle Media Network and Hodon District Police Commander Hussein Ad’eed.

Those injured included Abdulkadir Ok, a reporter in Mogadishu for the VoA Somali Service and Faysal Omar, a cameraman working with Reuters.

Relatives of Abdullahi Jama alias Kalga’al, a former Radio presenter with Horn Afrik Radio, a media looted by Al-Shabaab a decade ago, are looking for him.  Jama is believed to have left Somalia for Europe in 2007 when the jihadist struggle started.

But his relatives believe he was with another person, Dahir Mohamed Duwane, at the scene. They said that Jama had returned to Mogadishu last week after a long absence.

President Mohamud urged every able individual to donate blood so that the injured are assisted. He also urged Somalia’s partners to send medical personnel to treat the wounded.

“Since the casualty is very huge, it may be more convenient to have doctors here to deal with cases that need extreme treatment to avoid transporting victims in hordes,” the president stated.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the massive explosions, emphasizing that the jihadist group targeted the ministry of Education.

Somali Police Spokesman Sadiq Adan Ali aka Dodishe said the law enforcement had attempted to prevent the assailants from accessing the ministry.

But the calamity caused by Saturday’s twin blasts has had little comparisons, except the Zoppe explosion by an explosive-filled truck on October 14, 2017.

Sorrowful, President Mohamud described the deadly event being similar to what happened five years ago.

“It is another Saturday, another October, again at Zoppe junction with scores of deaths, injuries,” he stated, urging everybody to do what they could for the victims.

Accompanied by the Federal Minister of Education Farah Sheikh Abdulkadir, President Mohamud said “my government will offer free education to children whose parents died by this calamity”.

International partners quickly condemned the atrocities that overwhelmed Mogadishu.

The Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Agency on Development (IGAD) issued a statement, stating “IGAD is deeply saddened by the loss of lives caused by today’s attack in Mogadishu and condemns this heinous crime in the strongest terms! We expressed our heartfelt condolences to the government and people of Somalia, the bereaved families and wish injured speedy recovery.