Revival at stake
By Mohamed Odowa — resurgence in deadly attacks by the insurgent group Al Shabaab in recent months has stalled attempts by the citizens of Mogadishu to revive their the city after years of civil war. Assassinations of government workers, journalists and aid workers have become a common occurrence in the city, with the insurgents targeting private hotels and supermarkets. “As our Somali politicians and their international partners are busy with the country’s next elections in 2016, Al Shabaab is coming back with deadly attacks and new brutality here on the ground,” businessman Yusuf Ali said.
In December alone, more than 34 people, including security workers, a female journalist and government politicians were killed in drive-by shootings, car bombs or roadside bombs in and around Mogadishu.
Among those assassinated in a drive-by shooting in Mogadishu in December were two aid workers, one who worked for the UN and another who worked for a partner organisation.
Last week, three government workers were murdered in Mogadishu’s Hodan and Wadajir districts by suspected militants.
“Not a day or night will not pass without a killing of a government worker,” says Hanaan Osman, a teenage student from Mogadishu.
Poor coordination between security services and the public, where a culture of corruption and distrust is rife, are believed to be contributing to the violence. “That allows the continuation of daily assassinations in the capital,” senior Somali intelligence officer Mohamed Hassan said.
Al Shabaab, the most organised and dangerous terror group in east Africa, has claimed responsibility for nearly all the attacks.
“All supporters of foreign troops or the so-called Somali government are primary targets of our fighters,” a senior Al Shabaab commander, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said by phone.
Mogadishu-based Somali security analyst Khalif Ahmed says the security forces appear unable to stop the killings.
“Such weakness has again brought into question the capability of the government’s security sector over gathering intelligence information on the murderers,” he says.
“Every time the killers manage to escape. Al Shabaab is gaining momentum in Mogadishu due to these assassinations.”
The biggest challenge for Somalia’s security officials is that many Somali government workers have been infiltrated by militants, Ahmed says. “If you have no confidence in people working with you,
imagine that situation,” a family member, who asked not to be named, of the recently assassinated Somali female journalist Hindiya Haji Mohamed said.