Al-Shabaab is stepping up its campaign against Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and African forces (AMISOM) in the beleaguered capital of Mogadishu. The group vowed to take revenge after a government soldier opened fire on a populated area near the Banadir hospital, killing 20 people and wounding more than 80.
"The people in the areas under the government and AMISOM knew that the government and AU troops aim at murdering the people. Everybody knows that," said spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage. "We urge to all the people in those areas to work with Al-shabab fighters to achieve the [defeat of these] criminals soon." Al-Shabaab tried to capitalize on the attack by publicly encouraging its fighters to be careful of hurting civilians, despite its record of brutality and executions.
The TFG, which is completely surrounded in Mogadishu by Al-Shabaab troops, is under pressure as its United Nations mandate expires in August. "The constitutional process should have been our ideal path but ... we don't want a half-baked document to define the destiny of Somalis," Augustine Mahiga, the U.N.'s special representative for Somalia told a news conference in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. "We are all agreed this (interim administration) has to end." The UN is encouraging the TFG to negotiate with moderates from al-Shabaab and other factions.
Al-Shabaab has not moderated its extreme form of Sharia law. On January 31st, the group publically executed a man accused of being a CIA agent for the past 16 months. The victim, Ahmed Ali Hussein, was a cleric for the Ictizam sect, which opposes al-Shabaab policies.
"They are all talking about killing people whether they are innocent or not. If you try to offer your comments you will face their wrath," said 19-year-old defector Deeq Abdirahman. "The only option they have is killing, so I realized that their ambitions are not about religion."