16 April 2013

Somalia: PM Says 'Foreign Involvement' in Mogadishu Courthouse Massacre

Photo: Capital FM
Al-Shabaab militia have threatened to launch more attacks in the against the government (file photo).

Mogadishu — Security sources in Mogadishu stated that among the dead Al Shabaab fighters who laid siege to a Mogadishu courthouse that left more than 30 dead on Sunday, was a Canadian national, Garowe Online reports.

Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon who visited the court house riddled with bullets and met with the injured who filled the hospitals stated that there was "foreign involvement" in Sunday's attack. Over 50 people were injured in the attack with many in critical condition.

After insinuating that there was foreign involvement, Prime Minister Shirdon ordered a thorough investigation into the hour and half standoff that included multiple suicide attacks and car bombs.

Authorities in Mogadishu told media that a Canadian citizen Mahad Ali Dhore was among the dead Al Shabaab fighters. There were reportedly 9 Al Shabaab fighters - each equipped with a suicide vest - who carried out the coordinated attack.

Mr. Dhore was a York University student who according to Canadian media departed to Somalia and told his family that he had a wife and kids. Canadian authorities are looking into the case and have refrained from confirming if Mr. Dhore was involved in the deadly attack.

Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the massacre at the courthouse and a separate car bomb near Aden Adde airport that killed two Turkish humanitarian workers, a woman and child.

On midday Sunday, a suicide bomber detonated himself at the entrance of the courthouse which created an opening for the Al Shabaab fighters who attempted to fight their way to the third floor. Security forces on the second and third floor repelled the group until reinforcements arrived.

Supreme Court Judge Abdullahi Ilko Hanaf escaped via ladder when the fighting erupted. Others like prominent lawyer Abdikarim Hassan Gorod and Mohamed Mohamud Afra were killed in the clashes.

The standoff suicide assault on the courthouse was one of Al Shabaab's most complex attacks, since the Muna Hotel - populated by government officials - attack in August 2010 in which 32 people were killed including 11 Somali MPs.

Al Shabaab threatened more attacks in the war-torn capital, warning foreigners that their presence would not be welcomed by the terrorist organization. On Al Shabaab's Twitter account the terrorist organization tweeted, "...today's operations ought to drive this unambiguous message home: there is no safe haven for apostates in Mogadishu!"

SFG President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud condemned the attack and urged citizens to get involved in a "new war against Al Shabaab". On Tuesday, President Hassan ordered a review of security at judicial courts in the country calling for the revamping of security in all government institutions.

"We acknowledge the concerns and frustrations of the Chief Justice, and it is essential to ensure that our Courts, and all our government institutions, are properly protected," read a SFG press release.

Earlier this month, Britain warned that an attack was imminent in the capital and requested all British nationals to leave Mogadishu. Coincidentally, the U.S. renewed sanctions on Somalia arguing that there were parties destabilizing Somalia. Despite renewing sanctions, President Barack Obama granted Somalia eligibility for U.S. military aid.

The Puntland government also released a press statement condemning the attacks and calling for all Somalis to fight against Al Shabaab.

Mogadishu after 20 years of strife was embarking on a resurgence of economic and infrastructure development as security in the capital was steadily improving. Despite bombing and targeted assassinations the capital was enjoying relative stability. According to security analysts though, Sunday's deadly attack could have an impact on foreign support as the threat of Al Shabaab still subsists.


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