Al-Shabaab is suspected to be doing what it does best here: asymmetrical warfare and the deliberate targeting of civilians. As demonstrated by the advance of Kenyan and Ethiopian troops, the jihadists don’t seem to do as well when they have to fight like men. “Blast kills three at Mogadishu football match,” from Agence France-Presse, February 27:
An explosion killed three people Monday at a football match in the war-torn Somali capital Mogadishu, police and medical officials said.
“A heavy explosion, presumably a roadside bomb, went off at the football pitch as the match was about to start. … Three spectators were killed and seven others injured,” police Colonel Abdi Mohamed said.
Witnesses said the blast occurred as spectators were arriving at a pitch in the southern Hararyale neighbourhood. One person was killed on the spot, while ambulance driver Mohamed Moalim said two died in hospital.
Abduhafid Bashir, a witness, said: “The explosion went off at a corner of the pitch before the game started. I saw the dead body of a young man.”
No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but Islamist Shebab insurgents have carried out grenade and suicide attacks since abandoning bases in Mogadishu in August.
The insurgents have waged a brutal war to oust the Western-backed Somali government and a contingent of African Union forces protecting the weak transitional administration.
But the Al-Qaeda-linked rebels are now have been weakened since Kenya and Ethiopia deployed forces late last year to the lawless Horn of Africa country to defeat the insurgents they blame for causing insecurity in the region.
The Kenyan forces in the far south have carried out aerial and ground assaults against the extremist militia, while Ethiopian troops in the west last week wrested control of the southern Baidoa town from the rebels.
A missile strike last week also killed four Shebab rebels and destroyed their vehicle, reportedly carrying foreign fighters, some 60 kilometres (35 miles) south of Mogadishu.