The most violent terrorist attack to hit Mogadishu in months killed at least 15 people on Thursday.
In Somalia’s capital city, at least two perpetrators set off suicide bombs -- one inside and one just outside a restaurant called the Village. It was an establishment popular with expats and journalists.
"So far we have confirmed 15 dead people including two local journalists and two policemen," said police spokesman Abdullahi Barise to Reuters.
"We are still counting the wounded. They were rushed to various hospitals."
The incident is a troubling one for Somalia, which is struggling to enforce order and security after years of chaos.
Somalia has not had a stable government since 1991, and the years since then have been plagued by widespread poverty, sectarian violence, drought, famine, terrorism and piracy. Mogadishu has been a war zone for decades, but its stability has increased in recent years.
Now, a transitional government is taking real steps toward the foundation for a functioning democracy. It’s not easy; every bit of progress has been plagued by violence.
On Aug. 1, the transitional government agreed upon a new constitution. But just hours before the momentous accord was announced, suicide bombers rushed the deliberators’ building in Mogadishu. In that incident, only the perpetrators lost their lives.
On Sept. 19, a brand new president stepped into office. Hassan Sheik Mohamud, a former peace activist, was widely hailed as a promising leader for the long-suffering country. But just two days later, three suicide bombers ambushed his residence as he was speaking with reporters. They didn’t get far, but they did kill one African Union soldier.
One of Somalia’s most important tasks is the eradication of terrorism. With help from African Union troops, Somalia has clipped the expansion of the Islamist militant group al-Shebab, which has pursued a campaign of violence and kidnapping for several years. The group once had relatively free reign in Mogadishu but has since been pushed out.
Unfortunately, militants are still able to perpetrate isolated attacks in the capital city. Thursday’s bomb has the markings of an al-Shebab operation, though no group has yet claimed responsibility.
Investigations into the crime are ongoing.
Ahmed Jama, a Somali man who once lived in London but came back to Mogadishu in hopes of starting a new life there, was the owner and manager of the Village restaurant.
“My relatives whom I created jobs for have perished,” he said to Reuters. “My customers have perished, all innocent people. I cannot count them; their dead bodies are before me.”