A car bomb has killed and critically injured a number of civilians, causing a school to collapse in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. The suicide bomber detonated the explosive near the entrance to a government district office which lies in close proximity to the now damaged Quranic school. Reuters reports that the attack killed at least six civilians while also injuring at least six children. The Islamist militant group, Al-Shabaab, has taken responsibility for last Sunday’s attack, shedding light on the political violence which Somalia has endured since its government was overthrown in 1991.
According to Al Jazeera, a spokesperson for Al-Shabaab, Abdiasis Abu Musab, has claimed the group was responsible for the bomb. Musab stated, “We are behind the suicide attack, We targeted the district office in which there was a meeting. We killed 10 people so far, we will give details later.” The Associated Press News Agency reports that Somali police have also identified Al-Shabaab as responsible for the attack. One police official, Capt. Mohamed Hussein stated that the bomber “literally failed to achieve their goal of inflicting maximum casualties,” suggesting that this attack was minor in comparison to its past ones.
Civilians, including children, have suffered the ultimate consequences of Al-Shabaab’s ideological battle. The group continuously targets civil society, while its ultimate goal is to overthrow the country’s Transitional Federal Government, replacing it with extreme Islamic control. Al-Shabaab’s operations are built on violence and warfare, where the group engages in unconventional guerilla tactics, such as suicide bombs, to oppose the government. The violence and damage inflicted by organizations such as Al-Shabaab heighten political tensions in Somalia while creating challenges for the government to improve the state’s infrastructure, stability and the population’s wellbeing. Still controlling rural parts of Somalia and having an allegiance with Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab’s policies are also known to abuse human rights. For example, in the 2018 Report by Human Rights Watch, it was stated that the group has committed “serious abuses”, including violent executions, stealing and the abduction of civilians. Any group which seeks to exploit human rights and harm individuals should be condemned.
Al-Shabaab was established during the power vacuum which followed the overthrow of Somalia’s military government in 1991. During the period in which Somalia was declared a failed state, the group rose to prominence as a splinter organization of the Islamic Courts Union in 2006. Through international efforts and the establishment of a government, Al-Shabaab decreased in power. However, the Council on Foreign Relations reports that there are still currently 7,000 to 9,000 Al-Shabaab fighters. The group is considered a terrorist organization in countries including the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, with the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) reporting that in 2017 Somalia was still the most ‘Conflict-Affected’ African country. The report claims that this heavy violence was predominately the product of Al-Shabaab. Civilians in Somalia, therefore, experience heavy violence and political instability. This is exemplified by their average 55 years life expectancy at birth as stated in the World Health Organization’s 2016 report.
Last Sunday’s attack in Mogadishu represents the struggles and violence that Somali’s endure. Extremist organizations including Al-Shabaab have created barriers for Somalia’s government to re-established a safe and politically secure nation for its population. No state should endure political violence for any amount of time, let alone for prolonged periods. Concerns of future attacks will continue while it is hoped that the Transitional Federal Government will remain resilient and work with the United Nations towards a more safe and secure country.
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