Al-Shabaab keen to destroy our people everywhere, says Somalia president
MOGADISHU, Somalia - President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has yet again taken a swipe at the Al-Shabaab militants, arguing that the group is hell-bent on destroying the lives of innocent civilians, adding that the government will work closely with international partners to eliminate them.
Hassan Sheikh termed Saturday's Al-Shabaab attack in Beledweyne as "regrettable" but insisted that perpetrators will be "brought to book". At least 36 people were killed and 40 others critically injured, according to authorities in Hiiraan.
Al-Shabaab activities, he added, will not prevent the national army from eliminating them from strategic positions, including in central and southern regions. The Al-Shabaab militants control huge swathes of rural central and southern Somalia, data shows.
"The terrorist explosion in Beledweyne town underscores the enemy's aim to destroy our people everywhere. They target mosques, kill religious leaders, and assassinate community leaders. They were responsible for the destruction of the Baledweyne mosque today and the Daru-Nicma mosque yesterday," Mohamud said.
The incident in Beledweyne was characterized by a truck laden with explosives that detonated at a popular checkpoint, leading to dozens of people dead. According to eyewitnesses, a pickup vehicle belonging to security personnel was chasing when the explosion occurred.
This was the most devastating attack in the country in as many months, with civilians suffering the most. It comes at the time the Somali National Army, the US Africa Command, and the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] are conducting operations against the militants.
Abdifatah Mohamed Yusuf, the director-general of the Hirshabelle Ministry of Humanitarian and Disaster Management, said that 40 people were wounded in the attack. Those wounded have been airlifted to Mogadishu for specialized treatment.
"Twenty of the wounded have been admitted to Beledweyne hospitals, while another 20 are in critical condition, prompting a request for their airlift to Mogadishu for advanced medical treatment."
Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre on Saturday said the country has managed to liberate up to 45% of Al-Shabaab strongholds in the Horn of Africa nation. The militants are facing an onslaught of their time for the last 10 months, with the national army playing a vital role.