Somalia‘s Shabab insurgents claimed responsibility for July 11 simultaneous attacks in Uganda‘s capital Kampala that targeted crowds watching the World Cup final at public gathering places. Aleast 74 were killed in the bombings—the deadliest attacks yet carried out by the Shabab, and their first outside Somalia. The statement said the attacks were in retaliation for Uganda’s role in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The Uganda attacks were the deadliest in East Africa since the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, which left more than 200 dead.
A deadly suicide attack on a graduation ceremony in Mogadishu last December (on medical students, leaving 19 dead—BBC News, Dec. 3) apparently brought an internal schism within the Shabab to a head. Hardliners within the movement appeared to prevailed, as exemplified a few months later when the Shabab officially declared its alignment with al-Qaeda.
The Shebab’s overall leader is Mohamed Abdi Godane, a cleric who was born in the northern enclave of Somaliland, who very rarely appears in public but delivers frequent audio messages via local media or Shabab-affiliated websites. The Shabab, which is said to control some 80% of Somalia, is believed to count up to 7,000 armed men. It comprises an armed wing, known as the Jeish al-Usrah (Army of Suffering), as well as a religious police or propaganda arm, the Jaysh al-Hisbah (Army of Morality). (News Time, South Africa, NYT, July 12)
See our last post on the struggle for the Horn of Africa
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