Date: Wednesday, 18 October 2017
A young girl accused of adultery is forced into a hole in the ground and buried up to her neck in front of about 1,000 spectators who have come to the football stadium to watch her death.
Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, 13, pleads for her captors to “don’t kill me” before a truckload of stones is rolled in and about 50 fighters from the al-Shabaab militia start to hurl them towards her.
She’s being punished for reporting that three men had raped her in the southern port city of Kismayo in Somalia.
After about 10 minutes of being violently struck by stones, two nurses are instructed to dig up Duhulow and check if she’s still alive. She is. Barely. So they put her back into the hole and the men continue to pelt stones at her until she is dead.
“This child suffered a horrendous death at the behest of the armed opposition groups,” Amnesty International’s Somalia campaigner David Copeman said at the time.
It was October 27, 2008, and the terror group responsible for the killing was relatively new but since then it has grown bigger and deadlier.
Al-Shabaab — a terror group lesser known than ISIS but just as brutal — imposes its own version of Islamic law, which includes dress regulations and public mutilations, and has an estimated 7,000 to 9,000 fighters. The name translates to “The Youth” in Arabic.
It’s been responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in a string of guerrilla-style terror attacks, making it Africa’s deadliest Islamic extremist group.
The group is suspected to be responsible for the deadly truck bombing which killed at least 276 people and injured 300 on a crowded Mogadishu street on Saturday.
The blast occurred in Hodan, a bustling commercial district which has many shops, hotels and businesses in the city’s northwest.
Several experts said the truck was probably carrying at least 1,100 pounds of explosives.
A second car bomb exploded two hours later, injuring two people.
Somalia’s government blamed the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab extremist group for what it called a “national disaster.”
However, al-Shabaab, which often targets high-profile areas of the capital, is yet to comment. The group has a history of not claiming attacks where the scale provokes massive public outrage.
Al-Shabaab carries out regular suicide bombings in Mogadishu in its bid to overthrow Somalia’s internationally-backed government. It has already killed more than 4,281 people, according to data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Dataset.
It has also been known to cut off the hands of alleged thieves and regularly stones those accused of adultery to death.
Somalia has been battling al-Shabaab insurgents since 2007 with the help of 22,000 troops from the African Union and a US counter-terrorism campaign.
The militants emerged out of a bitter insurgency fighting Ethiopia, whose troops entered Somalia in a US-backed invasion in 2006 to topple the Islamic Courts Union that was then controlling Mogadishu.
Al-Shabaab militants were pushed out of Mogadishu and other major towns across Somalia by African Union and Somali troops in 2011. But the al-Shabaab militants maintained control of rural areas and have continued to launch attacks on military, government and civilian targets in Somalia, as well as terrorist raids in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.
The Garissa University massacre in Kenya, which took place near the border with Somalia, was the bloodiest attack in the region prior to the truck bombing last weekend.
A total of 148 people died in 2015 when gunmen stormed the university at dawn and targeted Christian students.
It followed an attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping center in 2013, in which at least 68 people were killed. In Westgate and other attacks, the militants spared Muslims, while killing those unable to recite verses from the Koran.
According to the Nairobi-based Sahan think tank, at least 723 people were killed and over 1,000 injured in bomb attacks during 2016 in Somalia.
Prior to last weekend, there hadn’t been a major terrorist attack in the country since Somalia’s presidential election in February. But the latest explosion has shattered hopes of recovery in an impoverished country left fragile by decades of conflict and again raised doubts over the government’s ability to secure the seaside city of more than two million people.
The recent attacks in Somalia came after the new government threatened to renew efforts to tackle radical Islamic terror in the region and the US military stepped up its focus on the extremist group.
In a mysterious move, Somalia’s defense minister Abdirashid Abdullahi Mohamed and army chief General Ahmed Jimale Gedi both resigned last week, without an explanation.
The Aamin Ambulance group, an independent organization based in Mogadishu, said the attack was a grim new milestone in the war.
“In our 10-year experience as the first responder in #Mogadishu, we haven’t seen anything like this,” it tweeted.
Earlier this year, the country teetered on the brink of famine, in large part because of the effect of fighting on agriculture and the distribution of humanitarian aid.