Somalia vows war on Shabaab militants after devastating attack

Somalia vows war on Shabaab militants after devastating attack
Somalia's president vowed to crack down on al-Shabaab militants on Wednesday, after mass protests erupted following the deadly October 14 attack which killed more than 300 people.

2 min read
18 October, 2017
Farmaajo vowed to eliminate the group when he came into office eight months ago [AFP]
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed vowed to step up the war against the militant al-Shabaab group on Wednesday, as he addressed thousands at a rally in Mogadishu for the victims of the city's deadliest bombing.

The president, better known by his nickname Farmaajo, said the October 14 attack which killed more than 300 people when a bomb exploded in a once-bustling district "shows that we have not done enough to stop al-Shabaab".

"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-Shabaab who continue massacring our people," he said, without providing details outlining plans to stop the militants.

Farmaajo, who came into office vowing to eliminate the militant group eight months ago, made the comments during a protest in the grief-stricken capital, after protesters wearing red bands around their heads marched through the scene of the truck bombing before gathering at a stadium.

Residents of the Somali capital, while wearily accustomed to regular bombs and attacks by the Islamist militants, have been outraged by the strike on Saturday.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Shabaab, a militant group aligned with al-Qaeda, carries out regular suicide bombings in Mogadishu in its bid to overthrow Somalia's internationally-backed government.

Similar protests took place in large towns in southern and central Somalia - a rare display of public outrage against al-Shabaab 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 US, 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.

Agencies contributed to this report.