Friday October 14, 2022
A Somali gestures as he walks past a dead body, left, and destroyed buildings at the scene of a blast in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. The Oct. 14 attack appalled Somalis, with some calling it their “9-11.” Thousands later marched in defiance against the extremist group, while the president announced a new military offensive. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
Mogadishu (HOL) - A truck bomb exploded at a busy intersection in Mogadishu on October 14, 2017, killing 587 people and injuring nearly 1,000 more. The attack was one of the deadliest terrorist bombings in Africa."It is a painful memory," Hassan Abdullahi Ga'al confesses.
Memories of the bombing are raw five years on. A monument commemorates the bombing location, and the intersection is now known as the October 14 junction in commemoration of the victims.
"I saw many dead bodies scattered on the ground; people I knew who used to work around here at the Zobe junction. Some were obliterated, and others were only identified by their remains and bones. That day was shocking for me."
Bile Adam Farah was among the 1,000 people wounded in the blast.
"The big truck bombing affected me a lot, but now I thank Allah for my recovery, allowing me to resume work after. I sustained major injuries to the cheek and head, but now I am recovered. Thanks to Allah, I have started working again."
Fearing intense public backlash, Al Shabaab, which regularly uses truck bombs to attack government and civilian targets, did not claim responsibility for the attack.
A Somali military court convicted 23-year-old Hassan Adan Isak in February 2018 for being a member of the Al Shabaab cell responsible for the attack. He was executed that October, exactly one year after the attack.
An accomplice was given a death sentence in absentia for providing the vehicle used in the attack.
This year's anniversary of the attack comes amid a government offensive in central Somalia, particularly in the Hiiraan and Middle Shabelle regions. In the past three weeks, Somali government forces backed by the local pro-government militia groups have liberated over 40 villages and killed over 500 al-Shabab militants - including top leaders - in operations in central Somalia.
Earlier this month, Al-Shabaab co-founder, Abdullahi Nadir, was killed in a US air strike near Jilib, about 370 km (230 miles) southwest of the capital Mogadishu. Security analysts predicted that Nadir was set to replace the group's ailing leader, Ahmed Diriye.
With files from AFP