Somalia: Al-Shabaab militants attack ministry of education
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Two simultaneous explosions were activated by Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militants in the capital Mogadishu on Saturday, with both targeting the Education Ministry near the famous Zobe junction, in the latest attack by the group in the Horn of Africa nation.
Witnesses said the security forces opened gunfire after the two explosions, with plumes of white smoke sighted in the city. This is not the first time the militants are targeting the building given that in 2015, they stormed the same site.
Preliminary reports indicate that the first explosion hit the wall of the ministry, with the second also coming in quick succession. It is not immediately clear who the group was targeting but usually, it goes for senior government officials, security forces, and innocent civilians.
There are fears of many deaths with the first information confirming that a TV reporter Mohamed Isse Koonaa and Hodon district police boss are dead with a Reuters photographer among those wounded in the complex terrorist attack.
Zoobe junction [K-5] was so busy at the time of the attack, officials said. The junction is heavily populated, lined with businesses, and was the target of the deadliest single-day terror attack in Africa on October 14, 2017, in which hundreds of people died and others were injured.
So far, the numbers of casualties are yet to be pronounced by the officials but sources say fighting is still ongoing. The attack also comes just a few days after the militants attacked Tawakal Hotel in Kismayo, in an attack which left three people dead and dozens critically injured.
The Somali National Army with assistance from the local militia, the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS], and US Africa Command, have heightened the fight against Al-Shabaab in recent months. Last week, the military said over 300 militants have been killed.
On Saturday, Somali religious scholars in an official communique said it’s against Islamic teachings to pay money to Al-Shabaab while calling for unity in fighting the militants. The statement comes at the end of a conference between the scholars, and federal and regional ministries of religious affairs.
Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud had recently warned the business owners from financing Al-Shabaab whether through willingness or extortion. Those who will violate the order, he charged, will have their business permits revoked.