Somalis remember deadly suicide bombing a year on


A year after their father was among nearly 600 Somalis killed in a fireball, the 32 children of Abdullah Mohamud plunged into poverty by his death are among thousands still suffering aftershocks of what may be history’s deadliest suicide bombing.

A bomb-laden truck heading for a base of African troops exploded in the centre of Mogadishu on October 14, 2017. The blast next to a fuel truck created a storm of flame that incinerated victims. Two other car bombs also detonated in the city.

The attack was far and away the deadliest to hit the country, which has experienced 25 years of civil war, clan conflict and Islamist violence. Many far from the epicentre of the explosion still reel from the effects.
“We are suffering and cannot cope because we all depended on him,” said Nadifo Ahmed, one of four wives who depended on Mohamud, a livestock trader, killed in the blast.

With no breadwinner, the 32 children are effectively outcasts. They cannot afford school. They live in corrugated metal shacks, with no money for rent or medicine, she explained, seated on a mat under a tree, some of the children sitting quietly by her feet.
“Sometimes a relative may send a small amount but it cannot fill the gap. These are the burdens we face and there is no one to help.”

The Islamist insurgency al Shabaab was blamed for the blasts. On Sunday, the anniversary of the explosion, government executed a militant found guilty by a military court of participating in the attack plot.

Hundreds of residents wearing white and red headbands gathered at the blast site to commemorate the first anniversary of the attack and remember the dead. The headbands are a symbol of public fury over the attacks and anger at the Islamist fighters blamed for them.

Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire unveiled a memorial to mark the attack at the site where bombed out buildings have been rebuilt, one hosting a supermarket and a bank.

But survivors like Ali Mohamed have yet to rebuild their lives. Mohamed’s wife was killed in the explosion. He suffered severe burns across that shrivelled one ear and deformed his hands. He was unable to work for six months and still panics when he hears loud noises.
“I cannot bear any kind of sounds, like the running of a car engine or gun shots and so on. I cannot sleep unless I use sleeping pills and sometimes I stay up till morning.”

Abdulqadir Abdirahman, director of the city’s sole rescue service Amin Ambulance, has seen innumerable attacks over a 12-year career, but nothing prepared him for the devastation of that day.
“I saw what other people did not see,” he recalled. “People were bleeding and crying. Cars were burning and buildings collapsing. I saw so many things which I cannot ever forget.”