Somali security crackdown after attacks
15 April 2013, 14:12
Mogadishu - Somalia's police force launched a major security
operation on Monday searching for explosives and weapons, a day after a
spectacular suicide attack by Islamist insurgents in the city.
"There is a major security operation under way in
Mogadishu," said senior police official Mohamed Hassan. "So far more
than 400 people have been detained, the operations are aimed at tackling
On Sunday, a nine-man suicide commando blasted its way into
Mogadishu's main court complex, some blowing up their explosive vests while
others sprayed gunfire in a rampage that left 29 civilians dead, while a
separate bomb attack killed five more.
The al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab militant group claimed
responsibility for the courthouse attack.
"All vehicles moving in town are subject to security
screening while the passengers are being temporarily detained for
questioning," Hassan added.
Security forces set up road blocks across the city.
"The soldiers are stopping all vehicles and arresting people,"
said Ali Ismail, a witness.
"I saw nearly 300 people who were detained and
blindfolded near the industrial road. Everyone the security forces set eyes on
today is getting arrested," said Yusuf Ganey, another witness.
String of attacks
"This is not a normal operation," he said.
The Shabaab Islamists used to control most of the seaside
capital until they abandoned fixed positions in August 2011. But the extremist
group has since carried out a string of attacks against the UN-backed
A regional military offensive has forced many Shabaab
fighters to pull out of a string of key towns, but the insurgents have reverted
to guerrilla tactics and have carried out several bomb attacks in Mogadishu.
But the scale and audacity of this latest attack - striking
in the heart of the heavily-guarded administrative quarter of the capital -
still shocked many.
"None one thought the Shabaab could still strike at the
heart of government but it happened and it was a really horrible attack, it is
really very difficult to fight someone who does not fear the pain of
death," said Muktar Isa, a resident.
The area round the courthouse remained cordoned off on Monday
with security forces still surrounding the area.