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Militants Hunted in Mogadishu After Attack Kills 29

  • VOA News

Survivors escape from window of besieged court complex in Mogadishu, Somalia, April 14, 2013.

Survivors escape from window of besieged court complex in Mogadishu, Somalia, April 14, 2013.

Somali authorities have launched a security sweep in Mogadishu, a day after al-Shabab militants stormed the city's main court complex and killed at least 29 people.

Troops in the capital blocked off streets Monday and searched vehicles and homes in the hunt for weapons and anyone believed to have militant ties.

Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon said Sunday's attack and subsequent bombing left 58 people wounded.

Al-Shabab Timeline

  • 2006 - Launches insurgency to take control of Somalia and impose strict Islamic law
  • 2008 - U.S. declares al-Shabab a foreign terrorist organization
  • 2009 - Seizes control of parts of Mogadishu and the port city Kismayo
  • 2010 - Expands control across central and southern Somalia, carries out deadly bombing in Kampala, Uganda
  • 2011 - Blocks drought/famine aid from areas under its control
  • 2011 - East African leaders declare al-Shabab a regional threat; Ethiopian, Kenyan troops enter Somalia to pursue the group, which is driven out of Mogadishu
  • 2012 - Declares itself an al-Qaida ally, loses ground in Somalia, abandons strategic coastal stronghold Kismayo
  • 2013 - Attacks Mogadishu court complex, killing more than 30 and attacks mall in Nairobi, Kenya, killing at least 69 people
"The attack caused massive damage," he said. "So far we have confirmed the deaths of 29 people, most of them civilians, while 58 others were wounded, most of them civilians. We condemn this unjust and cowardly attack that targeted civilians indiscriminately."

Somali President Hassan Mohamud also condemned Sunday's attacks, saying that "a few desperate terrorists" will not keep Somalia from moving toward peace and stability.

A legal advisor to the president, Abdiwahab Osman Qalinle, told VOA that the attack comes just days after a major conference on judiciary reform in Somalia.

"This is clearly an attempt to derail this national resolve to reform the justice [judiciary]," he said.

On Sunday, a group of nine militants blasted their way into the court complex, some blowing up their explosive vests while others exchanged gunfire with government forces.

Hours later, a car bomb exploded near the airport in the capital, damaging a vehicle said to be carrying Turkish citizens.

Authorities said some of the militants were dressed in Somali military uniforms, and that all of the attackers died.

Mogadishu medical officials told VOA that among the dead are two lawyers who recently defended an alleged rape victim and the journalist who interviewed her.

The journalist, Abdiaziz Abdinur, and the woman were sentenced to one year in prison on charges of insulting the country's honor and making false accusations. The case sparked an international outcry and the two were later released.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague also condemned the attacks.

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