The northern part of the country had been relatively peaceful, but, you see, it was a completely wrong variety of peace (i.e., not the kind the jihadists promise), and thus, absolutely had to be stopped by any possible means.
Somalia Jihad Update. “Suicide attacks kill dozens in Somalia,” by Xan Rice for the Guardian, October 29:
A wave of synchronized suicide attacks on UN, diplomatic and government institutions in northern Somalia killed up to 31 people today.
Three car bombs detonated in Hargeisa, the capital of the breakaway Somaliland region. Another two vehicles exploded in neighbouring Puntland, which, like Somaliland, has been relative peaceful compared to the rest of the country.
The careful coordination and nature of the attacks is unprecedented in Somalia and marks a serious deterioration in an already dire security situation. Suspicion immediately fell on the radical Shabaab militia, which is part of much broader Islamist-led resistance fighting against the Somali government and occupying Ethiopian troops.
In Hargeisa, the Ethiopian consulate suffered the greatest damage, with up to 20 people reported dead. An attack on the president’s palace killed at three people, including the presidential secretary, while two workers died at the headquarters of the UN Development Programme (UNPD).
“A vehicle forced its way into the compound and then exploded,” said a UNPD spokesperson in Nairobi. “It appears that the driver of the car was still inside.”
The suicide bombers, who were reported to have used driving four-wheel drive vehicles, struck within a few minutes of each other.
In Bossaso, Puntland’s main city, explosive-laden cars detonated at separate interior ministry offices responsible for combating terrorism, killing six people. Dozens were injured in the five attacks.
“I fear that this is exactly what it looks like – the Shabaab,” said a military expert on Somalia, who cannot be named because of his position. “We expected them to launch high-profile attacks, but this was extraordinary, requiring a large coordinated and concealed effort.”
Analysts believe the timing of the bombings was no accident. Regional heads of state, including Somalia’s president, Abdullahi Yusuf, were meeting yesterday in Nairobi to discuss the country’s future. Peace efforts had received a boost over the weekend when Yusuf’s government and the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) signed a deal in Djibouti agreeing to a ceasefire, and a phased withdrawal of Ethiopian troops.
The jihadists will only allow peace (or the absence of shooting) and order to take hold on their terms. Then, if either ever comes into effect, they will take credit as the “only” group that could achieve it (see also: Hamas, and the Taliban).
But a breakaway wing of the ARS, as well as the Shabaab, rejected the deal. They refuse to enter negotiations before the complete withdrawal of the Ethiopian forces that invaded Somalia in December 2006 to oust an Islamist authority from power.
Previously during peace negotiations the Shabaab has launched large attacks, mainly in Mogadishu, to demonstrate that they have control on the ground.
“It’s clear that the Shabaab, or jihadis or whatever you want to call them, are trying to make a statement that they target any place in Somalia, not just the south,” said a Western diplomat in Nairobi. “But we cannot let this undermine the Djibouti agreement, and we have to expect and accept that these sort of attacks may continue in the short term.”…