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Turkey says will continue to support Somalia despite Al-Shabaab threat


MOGADISHU, Somalia - In solidarity with the victims of the Al-Shabaab massacre last week, Somalia residents held peaceful protests against Al-Shabaab militants on Thursday, January 2, Garowe Online reports.

Chanting anti-Al Shabaab messages, the residents carried placards condemning the "uncivilized" attack, calling for collective efforts to degrade the militants.

"Report Al-Shabaab to authorities. Students are our future. Turks are our brothers, their blood is ours," read the slogans of the demonstrators in Mogadishu in response to Dec 28 attack in the capital.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish President, received perhaps the most resounding spotlight, following Ankara's role in airlifting critically injured people.

Ismael Mukhtar, the government spokesperson said: "Today, the Community in Mogadishu sent out a message to the Al-Shabaab militant group."

He added that Al-Shabaab "will pay the price for the cowardly Ex-control Afgoye terror attack which killed and maimed innocent civilians".

Al-Shabaab attack left scores dead

Close to 90 people were confirmed dead while scores were injured during the attack. At least 38 people were airlifted to Turkey and Qatar for treatment.

Protestors asked the international community not to "abandon Somalia at this time of need", adding that "terrorism is a global phenomenon"

The attack, Al-Shabaab had claimed, targeted a Turkish convoy near the Afgoye junction. They also said police officers were part of the target.

At least 17 police officers died during the attack. Two Turkish engineers also died. Turkey is a key donor to the UN-backed Somalia government.

Turkey working with Somalia to establish the motive

In an interview with VOA on Thursday, Turkey ambassador to Somalia Mehmet Yilmaz said Ankara is working with Mogadishu to establish the motive of the attack.

“In the coming days we’ll have a clearer picture of what was the target, who was targeted," he said, adding "Somali authorities are working on that incident and probably they’ll reach conclusion and we’ll have a better idea.”

Earlier this week, Somalia's spy agency NISA linked a foreign country to the attack in the initial report, although it did not give further details.

The claim contradicts President Mohamed Farmajo's initial assertion where he directed linked Al-Shabaab to the attack.

Analysts have since disputed alleged involvement of the United Arab Emirates, whose rivalry with Qatar has been linked to escalating political tensions in Mogadishu.

Opposition leaders in Somalia also accused NISA of "grossly misleading the public" as a cover-up to "its obvious incompetence"

Both Wadajir party leader Abdirahman Abdishakur and Forum for National Parties (FNP) boss Sharif Sheikh Ahmed blamed the government for the attack.

Retaliatory attacks by SNA and allied forces

Since the attack, Somalia and allies have waged attacks targeting the militants, killing scores in the process. The attacks were waged across the country.

US Africa Command forces on Sunday said it had killed a total of four Al-Shabaab commanders in Lower Shebelle, a region seen as a hotbed of terror.

State-run media on Friday also claimed that over 30 militants were killed in Lower Shebelle. The reports could not be independently verified.

The US-trained Danab Special Forces also confirmed on Wednesday that it had killed over 20 alleged militants in a series of retaliatory attacks against Al-Shabaab.