January 02, 2020

Somalis protest against al-Shabaab terror group as anger prompts rare apology for bombing that killed 90
Hundreds of people took to the streets of Mogadishu on Thursday, in a rare show of defiance against al-Shabaab, the Somali jihadist group who have terrorised the country for nearly a decade.   The protests follow the carnage wrought on the Somali capital on the 28th of December when a car bomb exploded at a busy traffic intersection killing around 90 people and injuring dozens of others. The terror group took the unprecedented step of apologising for the attack in the face of huge public anger.  Protests against al-Shabab are uncommon, as many fear that the crowds will be attacked. In the past, Somalis have protested silently instead by wearing red bandanas to symbolise the bloodshed. But after nearly ten years of brutal Islamist insurgency and hundreds of deadly attacks, fear is turning to rage. The demonstration followed a state television broadcast, which showed some of the group’s propaganda in which it explained why they carried out the attack in which mainly civilians died. Many Somalis were so outraged by the warped justifications, that al-Shabaab took the decision to issue an apology for the bombing, earlier this week.  The group said they were targetting Turkish and foreign forces and that the numbers of dead Somalis had been highly exaggerated  The marches were organised by the city’s administration as a sign of resistance. Major roads were closed and hundreds took to the streets. Most of the protests were peaceful.  The wreckage of a car that was destroyed during the car bomb attack in Mogadishu Credit: ABDIRAZAK HUSSEIN FARAH/AFP via Getty Images But some turned ugly. At the sight of the bombing, protesters looted shops, burned tyres and damaged luxury cars, according to local journalist Hussein Mohamed. Many protesters chanted slogans calling for Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, the president, to stand down.  Saturday's attack was the deadliest to hit the country since a truck exploded in 2017 near a fuel tanker in Mogadishu, killing nearly 600 people. The attacks have prompted fears that the al-Qaeda-allied group is going through a resurgence.  Al-Shabaab militants were driven out of Mogadishu in 2011. But despite the presence of Amisom, a 20,000-strong African Union army, local security forces and increased airstrikes by the US, the jihadists have proven themselves to be incredibly resilient.   The group has been able to take advantage of the fragility of Somalia’s new government and the country’s clan interests to sow division. Al-Shabaab still controls large parts of the country and makes millions of dollars through extensive smuggling and racketeering operations.   The militants have infiltrated parts of the government and security services, allowing it to continue launching high-level attacks. Over the last few years, it has overrun a peacekeeping base, attacked a US military base outside Mogadishu and launched attacks in neighbouring Kenya.
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