The capital of Somalia, Mogadishu, was the target of a terrorist bomb strike on Oct. 14, when a truck packed with several hundred kilograms of military-grade and homemade explosives killed over 350 people and injured over 500 more.
No individual or organization has been identified for the cause of the attack. However, given the history of the nation and the nature of the attack, the Somali government has been to led believe it was caused by the Al-Shabab, an Islamic State militant organization.
“Somalia is a failed state,” said Aguibou Yansane, an SF State international relations professor. “A failed state means you have no good government. You have warlords fighting each other. Anything can happen in a failed state and anyone can rise to power. It has been a failed state since the late 1980s. If things are going to change they need to establish a viable government, hopefully democratic but most importantly viable and stable.”
As the nation started to process the devastation the country had faced, a fellow Gator was also frightened by the news, but for much more personal reasons.
Jessika Karlsson, a senior at SF State, found out about the attack Sunday, a day later. The reason for her fear: her mom was in Mogadishu approximately 5 kilometers away from the bomb site.
“I found out, and I was freaking out,” said Karlsson. “I knew she would be alive if she answered the phone. I was just in my apartment and I didn’t know what to do. No one reported on it for a while after it happened. I only found out about it 24 hours after it happened.”
Karlsson’s mother, Paris Ali, was in Somalia for six months on a hiatus from work. After learning more about the event, Karlsson reached out to her mother and finally got ahold of her on Sunday evening.
“I was crying on one end and she was apologizing on the other end,” said Karlsson. “She heard when the bomb went off, she was home. She was so close from where the attack happened. I was terrified.”
The hotel Amira was one of the buildings destroyed. Ali’s sister lived there for two years and just recently moved out and back to Canada.
This attack was not an isolated event; Mogadishu has been the target of multiple bombs in the past years, but nothing of this magnitude. This was the deadliest attack in the history of the nation.
“The attack lasted just a minute. People close to the attacked area started running away from the smoke and flames. Roads were closed and there were security checks at the checkpoints,” Ali said. “During my stay here, there has been a few blasts. I considered myself to be lucky by not travelling on that road. I usually go there to buy meat. My sister used to live close to that area and her hotel was completely destroyed.”
“It’s not a stable state, there’s been a civil war since 1991,” said Karlsson. “This is not a usual thing. Some papers took 48 hours even to write something about it. It’s kind of sad.”
Shortly after the attack, the White House sent out a press statement regarding the strike.
“The United States stands with the people and government of Somalia in their commitment to defeating these groups, ensuring the security of their people, and rebuilding their country,” the statement said.
Since the attack, President Trump’s administration has issued a drone strike on an Al-Shabab base and confirmed a total of 8 militants killed.
“Living in places that are targeted make you feel as if you are living dead,” said Ali. “Blasts can occur anywhere in the city and suburbs. You just have to be lucky that you survive. At the same time, your normal life is going on. It is sad and ridiculous. I am noticing that here people are more aware of death than elsewhere.”
Somalia’s president will announce a “state of war” against the Al-Shabab extremist group blamed for the bombing, the prime minister said. As the nation prepares to go to war, the citizens of the capital will need to remain vigilant in this crisis.