Suicide Strikes in Somalia
The first suicide bomber in Somalia targets transitional president and parliament as Somalia slides further into the hands of the al Qaeda backed Islamic Courts
The Islamic Courts makes the first overt move against the weak transitional government of President Abdullahi Yusuf. Just minutes after a speech to the transitional Parliament based out of the western town of Baidoa, a suicide car bomber attacked the presidential convoy. Some reports indicate two car bombs were detonated. Six were killed in the suicide strike, including President Yusuf's brother. The attack was likely a decapitation attempt aimed not only at President Yusuf, but the fragile transitional Parliament.
The suicide attack in Baidoa occurs under the backdrop of 'protests' in the capitol. The ICU has organized a series of demonstrations with local supporters. Last week Baidoa police used gunfire to disperse an Islamist demonstration in the city. The ICU is clearly making a play to finish off the remnants of the transitional government.
President Yusuf has put the blame for the attack squarely on al Qaeda. "There is nothing like this in Somalia except for al Qaeda. Anyone who is looking for a solution for Somalia will not get it through political assassinations and suicide bombings," Yusuf said after the attacks.
Al-Qaeda has established terrorist training camps in Somalia (over 17 at last count). Sheikh Yusuf Indohaadde, a senior member of the ICU, was captured on videotape with al Qaeda fighters over the summer.
Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the leader of the Islamic Courts, has placed the blame on Ethiopia. SomaliNet News characterizes Amhed's appearance on Al Jazeera as follows: "He said the attack in Baidoa indicates how Ethiopia is unwilling the current government and seeks best justifications for its intervention in Somalia and persuade the United Nations to lift the embargo and let the outside troops enter Somalia."
Over the past week, the Islamic Courts has continued to consolidate power in the south of the country. An ICU army has marched south towards the important port city of Kisaymo. Residents have been fleeing the city at a rate of 600 per day to escape the advance. The ICU clear has no personnel issues, as they are able to maintain an army outside of Baidoa, push another further south while making threats towards Puntland in the central part of the country.
As the Islamic Courts pushes outwards to control the whole of Somalia, the imposition of Shariah law in Mogadishu continues. ICU gunmen killed a 13 year old boy and wounded three others while breaking up a group watching an English soccer match. "They also smashed a television set and satellite-link equipment." Hours after an outcry was raised over the Pope's statements on Islam, ICU fighters killed a 65 year old Italian nun, along with her bodyguard. Sheikh Abubukar Hassan Malin, an ally of the ICU, pressed for the death of the Pope. "We urge you Muslims wherever you are to hunt down the Pope for his barbaric statements as you have pursued Salman Rushdie, the enemy of Allah who offended our religion," said Malin during Friday prayers.