Mogadishu, Somalia –
During a parliamentary session, members of the Somali parliament raised questions concerning last week’s devastating al-Shabaab attack on the Jaalle Siyaad Military Academy, which resulted in the loss of over 30 soldiers. The Defense Minister refused to answer the questions, providing only a vague comment after being pressured by the Speaker.
The Defense Minister of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), Abdulkadir Mohamed Nor (also known as Jama), delivered a speech to the parliament, focusing on the significance of Somalia’s membership in the Eastern Africa Standby Force. When finished, the MPs confronted him about the recent Jaalle Siyaad carnage by al-Shabaab, which reportedly killed at least 30 soldiers.
Initially, the Minister refrained from responding, stating that he did not come to address those specific questions on that day. However, the Speaker insisted that the Minister provides answers. Consequently, the Minister vaguely answered, stating that an investigation into the Jaalle Siyaad incident had been underway, and several suspects had been taken into custody.
Jaalle Siyaad attack
A suicide bomber from the al-Shabaab militant group detonated his explosive vest at the Jaalle Siyaad Military Academy on the morning of 24 July in Mogadishu, causing heavy casualties among the Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers. The exact number of casualties is unknown, mainly due to a government-imposed information embargo. Various reports inform about at least 30 soldiers killed and 50–80 others injured. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that they killed 73 soldiers and wounded 124. The jihadist group, however, is known for exaggerating its battlefield claims.
It remains unclear how the bomber managed to infiltrate one of the most secure military bases in the capital. Unconfirmed reports suggest that he might have been part of the 14th October Brigade or might have disguised himself as a regular soldier and joined others as they filed into a military base. The soldiers were reportedly being counted in the queue when the explosion went off.
Opacity surrounding the attack
Serious transparency concerns were raised shortly after the attack. The government and relevant authorities remained silent about the incident, refraining from expressing condolences for the loss of dozens of deceased soldiers. This starkly contrasted with the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), which strongly condemned the terrorist attack, extended its deepest condolences to the families of those killed and wished the injured a speedy recovery. Still, the central Somali government remained silent.
A reliable source within the state media confirmed to the Somali Digest that the media blackout stemmed from an order by Deputy Information Minister Abdirahman Al-Adala, who controls the state-owned media. His decision to suppress any reporting on the deadly attack allegedly faced significant opposition from multiple senior journalists.