Somalia’s Al-Shabab Claims Baidoa Attack Killing 30

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Islamist militant group al-Shabab has said it carried out Sunday’s attack in Somalia’s southern city of Baidoa that killed at least 30 people.

A car bomb exploded outside a restaurant as people were watching the English Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal.

In a second explosion, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a busy junction.

This is the fourth major al-Shabab attack in Somalia since the beginning of the year.

It came on the same day as countries which contribute to the African Union force in Somalia, Amisom, pledged “to reinforce military operations in Somalia, to effectively counter threats from al-Shabab”.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud held an emergency cabinet meeting on Sunday evening in response to the Baidoa attack, and Security Minister Abdirizak Mohamed Omar called for extra laws to help the government fight the militant group.

AU representative in Somalia Francisco Madeira condemned the attack saying he was “saddened by the loss of innocent lives through acts of terror committed by ruthless individuals who have no value for life”.

In addition to the 30 deaths, the attacks injured 60 people who are being treated in hospital, a local journalist told the BBC.

15 January – on a Kenyan base in el-Ade that Somalia’s president said killed at least 180 soldiers

21 January – on a restaurant at Mogadishu’s Lido beach killing 20 people

26 February – on Mogadishu’s SYL hotel killing nine people

28 February – on a restaurant and busy junction in Baidoa killing at least 30 people

Baidoa is being protected by Ethiopian soldiers, who make up part of the 22,000-strong Amisom force.

Troops from Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Sierra Leone and Djibouti are also part of the force that supports the Somali government in its attempt to gain control over the country.

Heads of state from the troop supplying countries said after a meeting in Djibouti on Sunday that they were concerned about the “decision by the European Union to reduce financial support to Amisom… by 20% especially during this critical phase of operations”.

The EU, which pays for troop allowances, decided to cut its funding earlier this month.

The leaders of the countries contributing troops to Amisom have called for an urgent review of their military response to al-Shabab, following weeks of sustained violence.

In addition to the weekend’s attacks, jihadi fighters have clashed with Amisom troops in different parts of the country, forcing the peacekeepers to withdraw from some areas.

Somalia’s allies now say more needs to be done to stem these attacks.

The Amisom nations agreed at Sunday’s meeting in Djibouti that they need more funding and logistical support for their own operations, not to mention helping the Somali National Army stand on its own feet.

The leaders complained that the absence of their troops in some key regions provided a safe haven for al-Shabab.

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