Somalis rally in opposition to Al-Shabaab threat, back military operation
MOGADISHU, Somalia – Hundreds of Somali citizens have come together in a rare display of unity, taking to the streets in various towns across the country to protest against the frequent attacks and extortion by Al-Shabaab. This extremist group often targets innocent civilians, particularly women and children.
Last Friday, the residents of Adado demonstrated their support for the military offensive against Al-Shabaab. This came shortly after President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud announced that his administration is tirelessly working to defeat the militants within the coming months.
The residents, as reported by state media, not only expressed their support for the military but also extended their gratitude for a well-executed first phase of operations that targeted HirShabelle and Galmadug states. Currently, the military is unifying these two states before commencing the second, and potentially final, assault against Al-Shabaab.
These demonstrations, organized by the local community, saw people from all walks of life participate. Carrying banners and chanting slogans, the demonstrators showed their unwavering support for the Somali military and the government’s determined efforts to defeat Al-Shabaab, as confirmed by authorities.
Similar protests were also held in Bahdo on Thursday, further bolstering public support for the military. These demonstrations serve as a reminder of the pivotal role public engagement plays in the fight against terrorism, as emphasized by state media.
Al-Shabaab militants have carried out sporadic retaliatory attacks throughout Somalia, primarily targeting innocent civilians and security forces, resulting in the loss of thousands of lives. The group often relies on Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and occasionally employs suicide bombers to carry out their heinous acts.
For the past 16 years, Al-Shabaab has been exploiting local communities by collecting revenue and imposing ransoms on kidnapped individuals. According to a United Nations report, the group can amass up to $120 million annually, which is utilized for logistical support and the procurement of weapons.
In addition to military operations, the Somali government has implemented stringent measures to curb financial support to Al-Shabaab. These measures include strict restrictions on businesspeople remitting taxes to the group, the closure of bank accounts associated with Al-Shabaab militants, and crackdowns on mobile money transfer companies involved in similar activities.