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Somalia:: Tens of thousands protest against Al Shabaab in Garowe, Puntland

GAROWE, Somalia Feb 24 2013 (Garowe Online) – Almost 20,000 people came out chanting slogans and carrying banners protesting Al Shabaab in Garowe’s downtown square on Sunday, Garowe Online reports.

In a bold move, Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole and Vice President Abdisamad Ali Shire accompanied by Puntland officials walked from the Presidential Palace towards the square where the rally was being held to speak in front of crowd of almost 20,000 people. 

Traffic came to a standstill, government offices and schools were given a holiday giving the opportunity for young and old to come to the “Square of Liberty” to participate in the rally.

Government officials, Cabinet Ministers, Islamic scholars, women groups, youth groups and traditional elders, were few in attendance at Sunday’s rally. 

People were carrying slogans that read: Al Shabaab is a cancer that needs to be severed. Others had banners that read: Sheikh Abdiqadir was killed so there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

The most recent Al Shabaab assassination of prominent Islamic scholar, Sheikh Abdiqadir, sparked fury amongst Somalis at home and abroad and prompted messages from major Islamic scholars and Somalis to root out Al Shabaab. 

President Farole, scholars and traditional elders spoke to the huge crowd who gathered to protest the terror organization.  

“This is not a ceremony to commemorate our fallen Sheikh [Abdiqadir], we came here together to agree to wage war against Al Shabaab,” said President Farole. 

Continuing the President stated that this would be a memorable moment in Puntland history.

“Today marks another historic moment in Puntland history; when the people of Puntland stood up to fight against injustice and terror right here in Garowe,” said President Farole. 

Sheikh Jama Liban a Somali Islamic scholar reiterated the Presidents satement saying that it was time for people to stand together in order to overcome the terrorists.

“Their [Al Shabaab] mission is to spread fear and terror so events like this don’t happen, but on the contrary the killing of Sheikh Abdiqadir has brought the people of Puntland closer and has united them on a common goal to fight anyone and any group spreading terror in Puntland,” said Sheikh Jama Liban. 

The protests continued even after the speeches, where thousands of people walked the main tarmac road in Garowe chanting anti Al Shabaab slogans.

At Sunday’s rally the atmosphere was one of anger, where people voiced their anger for hours in the hot sun some even falling unconscious.

“People have had enough with Al Shabaab, people were scared before but not anymore were tired of it people are ready to lay their lives on the line to stop terrorism in Puntland,” said Nimo Ahmed who we spoke to while she was fanning her sister who had fainted minutes earlier. 

Sheikh Abdiqadir’s killer was apprehended at the scene when brave citizens captured the killer as he tried to flee despite him wounding 3 civilians.

The Puntland government issued a press release on the update of Sheikh Abdiqadir’s investigation on Saturday.  

“Puntland security forces that have apprehended many principal terrorists and their terror networks that were behind past and recent attacks,” read the press release.

The press release also stated that over 50 perpetrators Galkayo, Garowe and Bossaso were apprehended by Puntland authorities including foreign fighters. 

The Puntland government stated that it will not let up, “until terrorists attempting to instill fear and wreak havoc in the country are captured and brought to face justice in a court of law.”


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