Life quickly returns to normal after Somalia blast

AP News
Posted: Apr 05, 2012 11:41 AM
Life quickly returns to normal after Somalia blast

A few dozen Mogadishu residents gathered near the national theater Thursday, not to discuss the deadly bombing there the day before, but to talk about how Somalia's seaside capital is moving on.

For the young men at Village restaurant sitting just a stone's throw from the theater, topics of discussions included the city's recent revival and a local swimming competition _ signs that for Somalis in Mogadishu, violence is an everyday part of life.

"Have you seen how nicely the KM4 arcade was built?" one man asked his friends, referring to a new landmark in Mogadishu.

"Not only that place, but the streets are being rebuilt. We are moving on, man!" another man replied.

Just over two weeks ago, Somalia's national theater reopened for the first time in 20 years. On Wednesday the theater turned into a scene of carnage when a suicide bomber detonated explosives, killing 10 people and wounding many more. Among the dead were two top sports officials.

On Thursday, merchants sold goods near the scene, as cleaning women washed blood from the floors of the theater.

Many Somalis say the latest attacks cannot send Mogadishu backward after its steps forward since al-Shabab militants were ousted from the capital in August. Ardo Muse, a vegetable seller, opened her shop Thursday only a few meters (yards) from the theater.

"Bombing and explosions are not new to us. I don't care about it," she said.

"I am building my country and working for a good cause," said Muhummad Ali, a mason. "Death is everyone's destination but the national obligations must remain within our minds."

In a sign of the continuing military progress made by the African Union troops who ousted al-Shabab last year, the AU force announced Thursday that it is deploying troops outside of Mogadishu for the first time.

Some 100 soldiers are being sent to the western city of Baidoa _ Somalia's third-largest city _ as an advance team for 2,500 troops soon to be deployed there. The AU troops will be stationed alongside Ethiopian troops already in Baidoa.

Elsewhere, a journalist was attacked by two men with guns and killed in the town of Beledweyne, said Mohamed Bashir Hashi, a reporter at Shabelle radio. It was the third targeted killing of a Somali journalist since December.

Back in Mogadishu, at the scene of Wednesday's blast, Somalia's national television reporters filmed the theater. The blast targeted a ceremony marking the first anniversary of the TV station.

"They can't deter me from my work. My job is a national duty that needs courage and commitment," news editor Liban Ali Nor said. "Showing the atrocities (al-Shabab) commit against civilians is my job!"

Two casualties of the blast that can't be ignored were the deaths of Somalia's soccer federation chief and its Olympic committee head. Athletes mourned the losses but said they will continue to practice in hopes of competing at July's London Olympics.

"Despite the violence our athletes are attending practice to come back with victory," Qadijo Aden Dahir, the deputy chairman for Somalia's athletics federation, said. "We do benefit from the peace we see now because our athletes will be able to make training runs across the city."

Shafi Mohyadin, spokesman for the Somali Olympic Committee, said the group will observe three days of mourning. He said the attack will not deter the team from traveling to London.

Mohamed Hassan Mohamed, a 5,000-meter runner, said: "Yesterday was an utterly black day for Somali sports. We have lost precious bosses who spent much time and energy in developing Somali sport."

Since al-Shabab's ouster, sports leagues have blossomed in Mogadishu, markets have appeared and Western-style restaurants have sprung up, marking a long-awaited revival.

Despite the advances, al-Shabab has continued to carry out bombings, sometimes with devastating effect. In October, militants detonated a truck bomb outside a government ministry, killing more than 100 people.


Associated Press reporter Mohamed Sheikh Nor contributed to this report.