Thursday, June 20, 2013
The European Union has strongly condemned Wednesday's deadly attack on the U.N. compound in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, and denounced such attacks aimed at destabilizing the Horn of Africa nation.
According to the U.N. Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), a pickup truck packed with explosives was detonated outside the gate of the U.N. Common Compound, where humanitarian and development workers reside and work.
A group of at least seven armed militants on a suicide mission then entered the compound on foot, opening indiscriminate fire. At least 22 people, including the attackers, one U.N. staff member, three contractors and four Somali security guards, were killed in the ensuing fighting. The remaining fatalities were civilians.
Somalia's most prominent and influential Islamist militant group, the al-Qaeda aligned al-Shabaab, has since claimed responsibility for the attack. The group, branded as a terrorist organization by the United States and most of the international community, is the military wing of the Islamist movement ousted by Ethiopia-backed Somali forces in 2006.
In a statement issued by her office late on Wednesday, EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was "appalled" by the attack, and expressed her sincere condolences to the victims' families. She also condemned "any violence aimed at derailing stability in Somalia."
Ashton said she "considers it important that recent progress is sustained, and reiterates the EU's full support for the people of Somalia, the Federal Government, the African Union and the U.N. in working to re-establish internal security and the rule of law."
U.N. Secretary General ban Ki-moon had condemned the attack earlier, saying: "Malicious terrorist attacks of this nature will not deter the United Nations or weaken its resolve to stand by the people and Government of Somalia as they work courageously to build peace in their country."
Until recently, al-Shabaab and other allied groups controlled large
areas in southern Somalia where they enforced strict Islamic laws or
Sharia. But Somali forces, backed by African Union peacekeepers, managed
to seize control of most of the rebels-held regions in recent months,
except some pockets in rural southern and central Somalia.
marked a historic political watershed last August when the first formal
Parliament was sworn-in, ending the "transition" phase which had begun
with the 2004 launch of a U.N.-backed interim government. The previous
functioning government ended in 1991 with the overthrow of dictator
Mohamed Siad Barre.
Somalia is currently emerging from a long and
difficult period of instability, with representative institutions and a
new government that has made a commendable commitment to uphold human
rights and the rule of law for all. Despite these positive developments,
the country still witnesses frequent bombings and militant attacks,
mainly in Mogadishu.
Incidentally, the U.N. Security Council had
voted last month to establish the Mogadishu-based UNSOM, with an
initial mandate of 12 months. Subsequently, the UNSOM, a political
mission supported by the U.N. Department of Field Support (DFS), began
operations earlier this month.
The new mission has been tasked by
the Security Council to offer expertise in areas ranging from the
political process to disarmament to help the country consolidate and
build on hard-won gains towards peace, reconciliation and stability.