Al Shabab militants in Somalia killed 19 people Sunday in three bomb attacks that targeted Mogadishu's main court complex and an aid convoy.
Al Shabab militants killed 19 people Sunday in bomb attacks that targeted Mogadishu's main court complex and an aid convoy, underscoring the fact that Somalia’s weakened Al Qaeda-allied militia has not yet been beaten.
The first of three bomb attacks exploded just before noon local time Sunday outside the Mogadishu courthouse. Gunmen camouflaged in Somali Army uniforms then stormed the buildings and opened fire. It was the worst day of killings in the capital since late last year, and spoke to the militants' ongoing capabilities despite a series of recent setbacks.
“These attacks appear to have been coordinated and well-planned,” says a political source close to the Somali government.
"It seems clear that they wanted to target symbols of Somalia's political and judicial progress in the past year, and thought that killing lawyers and court officials would appeal to people they think still support them," the source says, adding that "I think in fact that that support is waning with every one of these attacks."
As state security forces fought to contain the insurgents, several lawyers, court officers, and bystanders died in the gunbattle, sources in Mogadishu reported. A second bomb was detonated during the firefight.
Two of the counsels killed were Mohamed Mahmud Afrah, a law professor and head of the Somali Lawyers’ Association, and Karim Hussein Gorod.
They had represented Abdiaziz Abdinur, a Somali journalist jailed after he interviewed a woman who had been raped by Somali soldiers in Mogadishu. Mr. Abdinur was released last month after an international outcry.