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Somali president pledges war on Shabab after fatal attack

Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has vowed to step up the fight against the al-Shabab Takfiri terrorist group following the weekend truck bombing that claimed the lives of over 300 people in the capital Mogadishu.

Mohamed, better known by his nickname Farmajo, made the remarks during an address to thousands of angry protesters at a rally in Mogadishu. The people had taken to the streets in solidarity with the victims of the Saturday bombing.

The outraged protesters marched through the scene of the attack wearing red bands around their heads before gathering at a stadium where they chanted, “We are ready to fight.”

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. However, al-Shabab, a Takfiri militant group linked to al-Qaeda, is often behind similar deadly terrorist attacks in the conflict-stricken country.

Farmajo said the explosion “shows that we have not done enough to stop Shabab.”

“If we don’t respond to this now, the time will surely come when pieces of flesh from all of us are being picked up off the ground. We need to stand up together and fight al-Shabab, who continue massacring our people,” the president said.

People carry the body of a victim who died in a truck bomb attack in the center of Mogadishu, Somalia, October 15, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

It was unclear what Farmajo planned to do to stop the Takfiri militants from conducting such assaults.

The attack also prompted similar protests in large towns in southern and central Somalia.

“This attack seems to have united the people because everyone is angry now and needs to fight violence, there are thousands of young men, women and children out there protesting,” said a protester.

Ibrahim Mamud, another demonstrator, said, “I think the ones who have masterminded this attack will not spare anyone … we need to stop these guys before they kill all of us.”

The Takfiri group has in the past carried out terrorist attacks in Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia in a bid to intimidate the country’s vulnerable government and drive out African Union (AU) peacekeeping troops deployed there for support.

Government forces have been battling al-Shabab militants since 2006. The militants controlled Mogadishu between 2007 and 2011, when they were driven out of the capital with help from the AU troops. A period of relative calm started in Mogadishu afterward.

However, since last month, the group seems to have started to resume its attacks in Mogadishu.

Outside the capital and beyond specially protected zones, the militants are still a threat, reportedly roaming freely.

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