Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Mogadishu in defiance of Saturday’s blasts that claimed more than 300 lives. Somalia’s deadliest attacks to date reportedly came in retaliation for a joint raid by the country’s government and the US on a terrorist stronghold.
Wednesday saw crowds of protesters in red headbands gather in the capital to rally against the terrorists, who carried out one of the world’s worst atrocities, already referred to by some in the country as Somalia’s 9/11.
“You can kill us, but not our spirit and desire for peace,” high school teacher Zainab Muse said, as quoted by AP.
However, as the crowd attempted to enter the truck explosion site in central Mogadishu, at least three people were injured by security forces, who opened fire to prevent access, according to AP, citing the police.
Later, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed called on the demonstrators to “take your guns” and “liberate our country” during his address on a football field. “Come forward for recruitment [into] government forces in order to fight and eliminate Al-Shabaab,” Reuters cited the president as saying.
While the authorities blame extremists from the Islamic rebel group Al-Shabaab for perpetrating the attack, a report has emerged, saying that the driver might have been inspired by revenge for a botched raid in his hometown of Bariire, some 50 km from the capital.
Citing unnamed investigators, the Guardian reported that tribal elders called for revenge against the August operation in Bariire, known as an Al-Shabaab stronghold. During the raid by the government troops and the US forces, ten Somalis including three children were shot dead.
Investigators also said that the two vehicles used in the Saturday atrocity arrived from the town, and the owner has been detained.
The driver who blew up the truck in the city center is also said to have joined the Somali army, but later defected to Al-Shabaab. Meanwhile, his accomplice on a Toyota Noah, a veteran militant, was involved in previous attacks, including the 2012 bombing at a Mogadishu hotel.
More than 300 people were killed in the truck bombing. At least 160 people couldn’t be identified and were buried by the government. The twin blasts also injured more than 400.