News24

Somalia bombing a 'wake-up call'

2011-10-05 14:16

Nairobi - A truck bombing at a government compound in Mogadishu which killed more than 70 people is a brutal message from Somalia's weakened Islamist extremists that they have not been vanquished, experts said.

Tuesday's attack was described by residents as the worst since the start of the fighting in Somalia two decades ago.

The suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into the compound housing four ministries at a strategic crossroads, two months after the al-Qaeda linked rebels dismantled all their positions in the capital.

It was the deadliest raid by the Shabaab since multiple bombings in July last year killed at least 76 people in the Ugandan capital Kampala.

J Peter Pham of the Atlantic Council think-tank said the audacious bombing was a "wake-up call for both Somalis and the international community."

"While al-Shabaab has clearly been weakened in recent months by dwindling financial resources, internal discord and a loss of political legitimacy - to say nothing of the elimination of key leaders - its demise is by no means inevitable," Pham said.

Shabaab on Wednesday warned that worse was still to come.

"We are promising that attacks against the enemy will be routine, more in number and will increase day by day," spokesperson Ali Mohamud Rage said in speech broadcast on Wednesday by the group's radio, Al-Andalus.

"The attack was a hit to the mercenaries serving the interests of non-believers who thought that they have captured Mogadishu as well as for those who assume the Shabaab had left the capital," Rage said.

When they withdrew from Mogadishu, Shabaab leaders warned they would press on with their fight against the western-backed Somali government (TGF) and revert to guerilla warfare they had previously used against occupying Ethiopian forces.

That pledge appeared to be an acceptance that their earlier strategy of fighting the now 9 000-strong African Union force propping up the transitional government by conventional means was a mistake.

Analysts said the attack was reminiscent of the tactics Shabaab used until about 2009.