Extremists Step Up Ramadan Offensive in Somalia

July 31, 2013 by Open Doors in General

Extremists Step Up Ramadan Offensive in Somalia

On July 27, al Shabaab militants attacked a Turkish residence outside Mogadishu, killing two and wounding several others. In a series of Twitter messages sent minutes before the attack, they promised to intensify their self-proclaimed “Ramadan Offensive.” The group claims to have carried out over 100 attacks during the first half of Ramadan.

“Ramadan is a month of Jihad and sacrifice. It’s time for observing the most righteous deeds & offering gratitude to Allah for His blessings,” one Twitter message declared. “And what better way to observe Ramadan and offer gratitude to Allah than striking the necks of the invaders and destroying their might!”

Somali and international leaders condemned the suicide attack on a Turkish embassy staff compound in the Hodan district of Mogadishu, an attack that killed a Turkish guard and a Somali bystander, and wounded many. Somali rebel group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in which a car laden with explosives crashed into the gates of the Turkish residence. Three al Shabaab militants, including the car bomber, were also killed.

The group says that its fighters have carried out over 100 attacks in the first half of Ramadan, mostly in and around the capital Mogadishu. These attacks allegedly included 57 explosion and grenade attacks, 41 direct confrontations and ambushes, nine targeted assassinations, a suicide attack against an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and an attack on a convoy in Mogadishu on July 12, in which they claim to have wounded American intelligence officials.

Majid Ahmed, reporter for the United States Africa Command Sabahi website, expressed doubts about the high number of attacks, speculating that the group wants to create a false impression of unity within al Shabaab.

Somalia’s federal government was installed in 2012 with the support of the international community after decades of anarchy. However, the government of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has faced an uphill battle in wrestling control from al Shabaab, which still holds power over many areas in the South. The President has reiterated its call for al Shabaab fighters to cease fighting and accept the government’s offer of amnesty.

Somali religious figures, community leaders and citizens have condemned al Shabaab’s campaign of violence against fellow Muslims during Ramadan.

Father, especially now during Ramadan, we pray for the small group of secret Christians in Somalia who are especially at risk during this Muslim time of prayer and fasting. We pray against the violence of al Shabaab, but also against others who are more zealous during this time and spy on neighbors to see if they are taking part in the fast. We thank You for the courage of believers who have placed their faith in Christ, even at risk of severe persecution and death. In the midst of these challenges, be at work of the Somali people, drawing many to place their faith in Christ. Take this small handful of believers and grow Your church there, establishing in Somalia a strong and vibrant testimony, that Your name might be lifted high. In the name of Jesus, who is the Name above all names. Amen.

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