Seven members of the terrorist organization known as al-Shabab, an al Qaeda offshoot, exploded a bomb outside the UN headquarters in Mogadishu, Somalia on Wednesday, June 19.
The terrorists detonated a truck rigged with explosives at the gate to the compound. Seven of the attackers died and nine others were killed, bringing the total dead to 16. After the truck exploded, terrorists poured in and briefly took control of the compound.
African Union and Somali security forces responded and took control of the compound following a 90 minute gun battle. The UN staff who sought refuge in the compound’s secure bunker then were evacuated to the secure military base and airport complex across the street, Ben Parker, a spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia, said, according to CTVNews.
The UN had only recently expanded its presence in Mogadishu, believing control over the area by Islamic terrorists had receded. The hope that al Shabab had been routed by African Union peacekeeping forces was punctured by Wednesday’s bombing.
“The United Nations Common Compound houses UN personnel working on humanitarian and development issues for the Somali people. This was an act of blatant terrorism and a desperate attempt to knock Somalia off its path of recovery and peace building,” said Nicholas Kay, the top UN official in Somalia.
Al Shabab is an army of radicalized clerics and fighters trained in Pakistan. They are committed to overthrowing Somalia’s government,and seek to impose Islamic Sharia – a political religious ideology. Al Shabab became affiliated with al Qaeda in 2010.
Al Shabab was thought to have been largely defeated in Mogadishu, a city it occupied and ruled for four years until most of its fighters were driven out in 2012 by African Union peacekeeping forces.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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