Condemning “in the strongest possible terms” the weekend’s deadly attacks by Islamist militants in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, the UN Security Council has reaffirmed its determination to combat all forms of terrorism.
“As Somalia continues to progress towards greater peace and stability, it is deplorable that ordinary Somalis and members of the international community supporting that progress have been targeted by those who seek to prevent peace,” the Council said of the attacks in which more than 34 civilians were killed and a further 58 injured, including women and children, and for which the Islamist armed group Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility.
“The members of the Security Council reaffirm terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed,” the highest body of the UN said.
South Africa has also condemned the attack, with the department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) calling it “abhorrent”.
“It is deeply despairing that the attacks occurred just as Somalia is beginning to show clear signs of a return to normality following a 22-year long conflict,” spokesman Clayson Monyela said.
Dirco also called on “all armed groups, particularly Al-Shabaab, to renounce violence and engage the legitimate government of President Hassan Mohamoud in a constructive manner with a view to finding a lasting solution to the conflict in Somalia”.
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon called the attacks on a court building and those near Mogadishu International Airport “brazen acts of terrorism”.
He added he was confident “such appalling acts will not derail the determination of the Somali people to achieve peace and security” in a country torn asunder by factional fighting since 1991 but which has recently made progress towards stability.
In 2011, Somali forces and troops of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) expelled Al-Shabaab from Mogadishu. Since then, new government institutions have been appointed on the road to ending a transitional phase and setting up a permanent, democratically-elected government.
In August 2012, the first formal parliament was sworn in and steady steps have been taken to consolidate peace in the country. Last month the Security Council extended the mandate of AMISOM for another year and partially lifted the 20-year-old arms embargo imposed on the country to boost government’s capacity to protect areas recovered from the militant group Al-Shabaab and defend against fresh attempts by such groups to destabilise the country.
The secretary-general also paid tribute to AMISOM and Somali security forces “whose courage and determination helped to bring the situation back under control”.
In its statement, the Council reaffirmed its resolve to support the peace and reconciliation process in Somalia. At present the UN has a political office in the Horn of Africa country, the UN Political Office for Somalia and the UN Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA).
Discussions are also under way on a revised UN presence in Somalia to support recent political gains and address urgent ongoing humanitarian and human rights situations. The new mission would include advice and assistance on security, peacekeeping and state-building, the preparation of elections, human rights and the rule of law, and assistance for the co-ordination of international assistance.