The horrific bombing of a busy street in Somali capital of Mogadishu on Saturday that has so far claimed 276 lives has shaken the entire world while reigniting fresh debate on the evolving face of terror, analysts said on Monday.
Mogadishu became an epicenter of bloodbath when a truck laden with bombs exploded at a street in the central business district lined with government buildings, hotels, restaurants and kiosks.The impact of the explosion was felt within a 2 kilometer radius and triggered unprecedented chaos and pandemonium in the Somali capital that was slowly coming back to life after devastation caused by two decades of civil strife.
So far no group has claimed responsibility for the bomb blast though it had the hallmarks of Al-Qaeda linked militants, Al-Shabaab which has in the past carried similar albeit low level attacks in Mogadishu and adjoining districts. The deadly attack has so far elicited condemnation from the United Nations, African Union, regional blocs and western powers like the United States.
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, widely know as Farmajo, while declaring three days of mourning after the attack, vowed to pursue justice for the victims by ensuring the perpetrators were apprehended. Farmajo in his televised address regretted that his country lost one of the most productive segment of the population. "It was not directed at government headquarters or its staff; it shows the extent of hostility to Somali people."
The death and destruction that followed Oct. 14 bomb blast in a busy Mogadishu street once again reaffirmed Somalia was not yet out of the woods despite concerted efforts to root out terrorism and armed conflicts. Richard Tuta, a Kenyan homeland security expert, said the most gruesome assault on civilians inside Somalia in recent memory had the hallmarks of Al-Shabaab terrorist network even though they are yet to claim responsibility.
"The attack is a pointer that Al-Shabaab is alive and kicking despite sustained efforts to diminish its influence in Somalia and the region. The attack confirmed that Al-Shabaab can organize an attack of huge magnitude through meticulous planning, training of fighters and resource mobilization," said Tuta.
Kenya has deployed troops to Somalia to strengthen the war against Al-Shabaab that seeks to overthrow the government in Mogadishu and impose its Islamist ideology in the Horn of African state and the entire region.Tuta said the latest bomb attack in Mogadishu is a wake-up call for Somalia and neighboring countries to rejuvenate the fight against violent extremism that has gained foothold at an alarming rate.
"As a region, we should intensify vigilance and never under-estimate Al-Shabaab. It has only retreated tactfully to re-energize itself and can strike with lethal force in the absence of deterrent measures," Tuta remarked. He noted that Al-Shabaab has exploited lax policing, poverty, political and sectarian divisions to stage attacks inside Somalia and neighboring countries like Kenya.
Some died in their cars, they did not have time to exit from their cars
"There is a failure on part of security apparatus in Somalia and the region hence the frequency of Al-Shabaab attacks. We need to seal loopholes that can be exploited by this terrorist network," said Tuta. He added that the number of casualties in the latest bombing in Mogadishu could have been less had security forces intercepted the truck before it exploded in a busy street.
Puzzling developments that included abrupt resignation of Somalia's Defense Minister and Army chief preceded the Mogadishu bomb blast. Al-Shabaab militants had recaptured Bariire town located about 45 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu before the bombing that sent shock waves across the world. Local and regional observers are yet to understand the motive of the gruesome attack that has claimed a record number of civilians in Somalia but have not ruled out the involvement of Al-Shabaab or its affiliated foreign terrorist networks.