Mogadishu, Somalia –
Last Thursday, the militant group al-Shabaab carried out two separate attacks against Somali security forces in Mogadishu. Three days later, Somalia’s Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre emphasized the government’s special focus on the safety of the capital, claiming that all districts are now safer to visit.
Last Thursday’s first incident, al-Shabaab targeted Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) officers stationed at the Bakara checkpoint. The militants reportedly threw a hand grenade at the NISA officers, injuring several of them. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility, asserting they killed two officers and wounded five others. As always, it needs to be noted that al-Shabaab often exaggerates its battlefield claims.
In the second attack of the day, al-Shabaab targeted a police station in Mogadishu’s Dharkenley District. Lengthy gunfire occurred, but no casualties were reported. The militants claimed this attack as well.
PM Barre’s communication of Mogadishu’s security
The wave of attacks in Somalia’s capital came three days before the Somali Prime Minister, Hamza Abdi Barre, attended a security meeting in Mogadishu’s Heliwa District. The meeting on Sunday afternoon aimed to strengthen cooperation between security agencies and the administration of the Banaadir region.
During the event, Mr Barre emphasized the government’s special focus on providing security in Mogadishu, specifically mentioning progress in the Heliwa District. According to him, Heliwa had long faced insecurity due to al-Shabaab’s presence, but that has now changed. Improved awareness and community cooperation have purportedly enhanced safety across all Mogadishu districts, including Heliwa.
Setting it straight
This is not the first time in recent weeks that the Prime Minister downplayed the seriousness of Somalia’s capital’s insecurity. Al-Shabaab’s attacks are reported from Mogadishu literally daily. After the wave of attacks on security forces three days before the PM’s remarks in Heliwa, one would not expect such a display of naiveness when addressing the city’s security situation.
The Prime Minister seems to be living in a bubble, assuming that the districts he visits are safe since nothing happened to him and his heavily guarded convoy. How else to explain his similar remarks on 11 July in Yaqshid District, in which he commended the improved security of the country, the capital, and the district? “The fact that we are in Yaqshid District … reflects the change in the security of the capital. We are on the way to victory, especially the people of Mogadishu.”
Yet, Mogadishu, including the Yaqshid District specifically, has suffered numerous other al-Shabaab strikes following the Prime Minister’s speech. The facts are crystal clear – the capital’s security has been steadily worsening. The necessary question arises: Is it only the PM’s naivety, or is it a deliberate attempt to fool the public when assuring them that Mogadishu is now safer?