|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Permanent Mission of Somalia on Mogadishu Suicide Bombing
Today’s suicide bombing in Mogadishu, which killed six people, injured scores of others and seemed to be an attempt on the life of Somalia’s Prime Minister, showed that the Horn of Africa country still faced serious threats despite recent progress, the Chargé d’affaires at its Permanent Mission to the United Nations said this afternoon.
“This is another tragedy, another day,” Omar Jamal said a day after holding a press conference in which he reaffirmed the commitment of the Somali authorities to the full and on-time completion of transitional tasks. “It clearly shows that Al-Shabaab is still active and a threat,” he added, noting that the extremist group had claimed responsibility. He conveyed the Transitional Federal Government’s determination that such terror attacks would not derail either the political process or efforts to stabilize the country.
He warned, however, that today’s attack would not be the last by the group, which he said was now associated with Al Qaeda and whose cadres had returned to the capital in the hundreds following their military withdrawal, dressed as civilians and waiting for opportunities to wreak havoc. Al-Shabaab had changed its tactics and was now attacking soft targets like restaurants, bus stations and theatres, he said, expressing fear that such assaults would soon spread around the region, particularly to Kenya and Ethiopia, where there were many Somali refugees.
Today’s bombing was a clear attempt to assassinate the Prime Minister and other Government officials attending an event at the National Theatre with him, said Mr. Jamal. It had been carried out by a slender, young Somali female wearing an explosives belt, who had arrived at the event early, carrying a police identification card. She appeared to have had difficulty identifying the Prime Minister and had, in fact, been sitting next to him before he was called to the podium to speak. The bomb had gone off while has had been on stage.
In response to questions, he said it was indeed ironic that international media today depicted the rebirth of Mogadishu. “If you see today’s front page of the New York Times, it is a rosy picture.” A woman police officer was featured in the photograph accompanying the article, he said, noting that news of the coverage had spread quickly spread all over the capital. “And on the same day, you have a huge explosion,” caused by a woman with a police ID, he added.
Any picture of Somalia that depicted it as “completely out of the woods” was misleading, he continued. “It would be very nice to have peace overnight, but the country has a long way to go.” The international community must play a major role in sending a clear message that violent destabilization of the country would not be tolerated, he maintained. Extremists must be isolated, he added, noting that there were signs of divisions within Al-Shabaab as the group came under increasing pressure.
Asked how the woman had been able to get so close to the Prime Minister, he said the question was on the minds of many and there would be an investigation. “There seems to be a very serious security breach here,” he acknowledged. Al-Shabaab had claimed responsibility this morning on Twitter, denying the presence of a suicide bomber but stating that the bomb had been planted in the theatre to assassinate the Prime Minister.
In response to questions about Government approval of drone strikes against Al-Shabaab leaders, he said that kind of consideration was not accessible to him. Of course, the Government would like to rid Somalia of Al-Shabaab’s leaders, but it must also take the safety of civilians into consideration if any attacks were planned, he added.
Similarly, he said information about whether the Transitional Federal Government still accused Eritrea of bringing weapons into Somalia was beyond his scope and such questions must be referred to the sanctions monitoring group. However, the Government’s position was clear: anyone supporting terrorism was a threat to the region.
Asked about the connection between Al-Shabaab and the export of charcoal, he said the group controlled the port being used for that activity and charcoal could be a major source of its funding. The trade was having “very serious” environmental effects and was causing the destruction of whole forests, he added.
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