Friday, January 22, 2016

Somalia attack turns symbol of resurgence into one of grief


Published 2:51 pm, Friday, January 22, 2016

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Among the survivors of al-Shabab’s attack on a beachside restaurant in Somalia’s capital was Mohamed Abdiqani Kheyre. He is only 3 years old, and his mother was killed.
Witnesses said the Islamic extremists entered the restaurant from the beach Thursday evening, shouting “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” as they fired at people indiscriminately.
On Friday, relatives were identifying the dead, who numbered around 20. The bodies were laid out on the sand, their heads covered by yellow tablecloths, many soaked with blood. Some family members burst into tears upon discovering the body of a loved one.
The beach, which symbolized the resurgence of Somalia’s capital in recent years with people flocking to the shore and swimming in the Indian Ocean, had become a scene of bottomless grief.
One woman beat her chest, whispering the name of her son who was killed in the attack. She collapsed as his bloodied body was transported into an ambulance.
“They randomly fired at people sitting near the beach before entering the restaurant,” said Ahmed Nur, who was strolling along the shoreline when the attack happened.
After identifying the dead, relatives carried bodies away.
Tarious,” said Mumina Ahmed, a Somali-American who returned to Mogadishu last week after 14 years in Virginia.
Somali Security Minister Abdirizak Omar Mohamed said the suspected leader of the attack has been arrested.
While al-Shabab fighters fled Mogadishu in 2011 under pressure from an African Union military force, they have managed to carry out sporadic bombings and shootings in the capital and launch coordinated attacks against AU forces in the countryside.

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