Of all the actions carried out by Al Shabaab , the deadliest one took place on this day two years ago.
There are few countries in recent history that have unfortunately earned the title ‘failed state’ like Somalia. Despite some efforts at democracy the Red Sea nation has lived through famines, warlordism, foreign military occupation and a bevy of terrorist groups, the foremost of which is Al Shabaab (AS) (which, not surprisingly, arose out of the aforementioned – Ethiopian – military occupation). For the record there is also an Islamic State (IS) affiliate active in the northeast, albeit at a much lower level than the Al Qaeda-affiliated AS.
Al Shabaab has been responsible for thousands of deaths since its inception in the mid-2000s and has proved itself remarkably resistant to efforts by the Somali government, African Union (AU) forces and US airstrikes to defeat it. The organisation has also been successful in attracting some from the Somali diaspora to return and sign up: a wave of Canadians did so a number of years ago.
Of all the actions carried out by AS the deadliest one took place on this day two years ago. Two truck bombs were detonated in Mogadishu, the first outside a hotel at a busy junction lined with restaurants and government offices (a fuel tanker next to the bomb greatly increased the detonation’s intensity, burning many bodies beyond recognition and destroying entire buildings), while the second blast struck the district of Medina just two hours later. When the bodies were all counted the death toll reached 512 with another 312 wounded: since when do the deaths outnumber the wounded? By my calculations this is the largest terrorist attack in history after 9/11.
Other memorable terrorist incidents on this day include:
- 2016: 85 killed by IS and its affiliates in Egypt and Libya;
- 2012: At least 23 people were killed and 60 injured in a suicide attack at the wedding of an Afghan MP;
- 2005: Several hundred militants belonging to the Caucasian Front attacked several government buildings, several police stations and the city’s airport. In total, 142 people were killed in the attacks including at least 35 members of Russian security forces, at least 14 civilians and at least 89 militants.
That makes at least 750 dead on a single day across the past 14 years. Aside from 9/11 was any other day more horrific?