Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has promised a relentless war against Al-Shabaab militants, a response he says will pay the militants in their own currency of violence.
Mr Mohamud spoke on Sunday night after visiting the scene of a deadly twin explosion on Saturday, which killed more than 100 people and wounded at least another 300.
He described the militants as bereft of morals and urged his troops to pursue the attackers to the very end.
“Today's cruel and cowardly terrorist attack on innocent people by the morally bankrupt and criminal Al-Shabaab group cannot discourage us,” he said after receiving a briefing on the attacks.
“This attack will further strengthen our resolve to defeat them once and for all. Our government and brave people will continue to defend Somalia against evil.”
His speech was meant to show the government’s resolve at beating down a problem that has punctuated Somalia’s security scene since 2007.
The Saturday attack came came in the month Mogadishu was marking five years since another car bomb left more than 570 people dead, an attack christened Somalia’s ‘9/11’.
‘War is on’
After touring the site of the latest explosion near Zoobe junction and adjacent to the Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Mohamud declared “the war is on”.
“The country is at war, and at the moment I am talking to you, there is a war which will not stop until these criminals are all finished. Our heroic troops are committed to it and I want to assure you we will not stop.”
Somalia has had recent successes against Al-Shabaab, routing the fighters from villages in an unprecedented collaboration between Somali national forces and volunteering vigilantes.
Having seen the extent of the devastation caused by two explosions that were only minutes apart, President Mohamud called it ‘Zoobe Number 2’.
“At least 100 must have died and over 300 wounded,” Mohamud told the media, predicting that the casualties could rise.
Journalist among casualties
Immediate reports indicated that the casualties included Mohamed Issa Hassan alias Koona, a TV journalist who previously worked for Shabelle Media Network and Hodon District Police Commander Hussein Ad’eed.
Those injured included Abdulkadir OK, a reporter in Mogadishu for the VOA Somali Service and Faysal Omar, a cameraman working with Reuters.
Relatives of Abdullahi Jama alias Kalga’al, a former radio presenter with Horn Afrik Radio, a media looted by Al-Shabaab a decade ago, who left Somalia for Europe in 2007 when the jihadist struggle started, are looking for him.
They believe he was with another person, Dahir Mohamed Duwane, at the scene. They said that Jama had returned to Mogadishu last week after a long absence.
Blood donation appeal
President Mohamud urged every able individual to donate blood so that the injured are assisted. He also urged Somalia’s partners to send medical personnel to treat the wounded.
“Since the casualty is so huge, it may be more convenient to have doctors here to deal with cases that need extreme treatment to avoid transporting victims in hordes,” the president stated.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the massive explosions, emphasising that the jihadist group targeted the ministry of education.
Somali Police Spokesman Sadiq Adan Ali aka Dodishe said that law enforcers prevented the assailants from accessing the ministry of education.
President Mohamud described the deadly event as being similar to what happened 5 years ago.
“It is another Saturday, another October, again at Zoppe junction with scores of deaths, injuries,” he stated, urging everybody to do what they could for the victims.
Accompanied by the Federal Minister of Education Farah Sheikh Abdulkadir, President Mohamud promised that his government would offer free education to children whose parents died in the attack.
International partners quickly condemned the atrocities that overwhelmed Mogadishu. The secretariat of the Intergovernmental Agency on Development issued a statement condemning the attacks.