International Leaders Condemn Somali Attack; Al-Shabab Warns of More Violence

Posted October 5th, 2011 at 1:40 am (UTC-5)
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Somali insurgent group al-Shabab has vowed to carry out more attacks in the country following Tuesday's truck bombing in the capital of Mogadishu, which left at least 70 people dead and dozens more wounded.

Officials and witnesses say the attack happened early Tuesday when two suicide bombers rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a government compound on one of the city's busiest streets.

The militant Islamist group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was aimed at Somalia's Transitional Federal Government. A spokesman for the group warned Somalis to stay away from government facilities, saying that “more serious blasts are coming.”

The international community was quick to express outrage over the incident.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he is “appalled” by the bombing, saying it is “incomprehensible that innocents are being senselessly targeted.” The United States condemned what it called al-Shabab's “complete disregard for human life,” while Britain called the attack “callous” and France called it “vile.”

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed said he was “extremely shocked” by the “cruel and inhumane” act of violence, saying the insurgents “could not have attacked the Somali people at a worse time.”

The attack comes amid an international effort to provide emergency aid to millions of famine victims in the country. The United Nations has declared a famine in six regions of southern Somalia. Much the area is controlled by al-Shabab, which bans most foreign aid workers and prevents needy people from fleeing the region.

On Tuesday, the U.S. promised that international relief efforts would not be deterred by the attack. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the “vicious act” by al-Shabab, which killed a number of children, was at least in part aimed at the international relief presence.

Al-Shabab, which claims allegiance to al-Qaida, has been fighting government forces in Somalia since 2007. The group is trying to seize power and impose a strict form of Islamic law across the country.

In August, al-Shabab unexpectedly pulled its fighters from Mogadishu. However, the group warned that the move was only tactical, saying it would continue to fight the government using guerilla-style attacks.

The Somali government said the attack, al-Shabab's deadliest strike since the beginning of its insurgency, shows that the danger from terrorists is not over.

Al-Shabab has carried out suicide bombings with devastating effect in the past. In late 2009, a suicide bomber killed 24 at a graduation ceremony in Mogadishu. Last July, twin bombings in Uganda's capital, Kampala, killed at least 76.