Mogadishu Bombing Shows Price Being Paid by Civilians
Nairobi, Kenya, October 8, 2011 – The
bombing claimed by the militant Islamist group al-Shabaab in Somalia’s
capital, Mogadishu, on October 4, 2011, is an indefensible attack on
civilians, Human Rights Watch said today. The attack, along with an
upsurge in fighting in the towns of Dhobley and Dhusamareb that left at
least 11 civilians dead, highlights the price civilians are paying in
the Somali conflict.
A car bomb exploded outside a compound
housing several government ministries, including the Ministry of
Education, at the strategic junction of Km4 (Kilometer 4) in Mogadishu.
Between 69 and 82 people died, and at least 90 were wounded. Many of the
casualties were students and their parents awaiting exam results. Ali
Mohamed Raghe, the spokesperson for al-Shabaab, claimed responsibility
for the attack, warned civilians to stay away from institutions of the
ruling Transitional Federal Government, and threatened further attacks.
“Al-Shabaab’s heinous attack in Mogadishu
shows utter disregard for civilian life,” said Daniel
Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Al-Shabaab should immediately
stop targeting civilians.”
Al-Shabaab should ensure that all its
fighters respect the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said.
Human Rights Watch has documented a range
of serious attacks on education by al-Shabaab in Somalia over the past
year, including intentional attacks on educational institutions, forced
recruitment of children from schools, and killings of teachers and
students that may amount to war crimes.
The bombing came four days after fighting
erupted between al-Shabaab and militia groups affiliated with the
Transitional Federal Government, including Raskamboni, in the town of
Dhobley near the border with Kenya. Local sources told Human Rights
Watch that both sides fired mortars that resulted in civilian deaths
from crossfire. At least 11 civilians were reportedly killed. Dhobley is
the transit point for Somalis seeking to escape the conflict and famine
to Kenya. Fighting has also broken out in the last few days in the
central Somali town of Dhusamareb between the insurgents and another
militia affiliated with the Transitional Federal Government, Ahlu Sunna
Human Rights Watch called on the United
Nations to initiate an independent exercise to map and investigate grave
abuses in Somalia.
Al-Shabaab reported on August 6 that it
had withdrawn its forces from Mogadishu but warned that it would use new
tactics against the government in the war-torn capital. Local and
international sources have told Human Rights Watch that the Transitional
Federal Government forces have largely failed to fill the security
vacuum created by al-Shabaab’s withdrawal.
Al-Shabaab has carried out other
devastating attacks on civilians, including a suicide bombing on
December 3, 2009, at a medical graduation ceremony in Mogadishu. Two
simultaneous bomb blasts in Kampala, Uganda on July 11, 2010, killed at
least 76 people.
“Abuses against civilians in Somalia are
horrific and yet all too common,” Bekele said. “Ending the cycle of
impunity for such violations is key to Somalia’s future.”
For more Human Rights Watch
reporting on Somalia, please visit:
For more information, please
In London, Ben Rawlence (English,
Swahili): + 44-79-8481-6013 (mobile); or firstname.lastname@example.org
In New York, Daniel Bekele (English,
Amharic): +1-212-216-1223; or +1-917-385-3878 (mobile); or email@example.com