Blast cripples Somalia's lively spot

One of the few places in Mogadishu where people can forget daily stresses of life is targeted by suicide bombers

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    The Village restaurant is one of the few places in Mogadishu where people can forget the daily stresses of life. It is run by Ahmed Jama, a British Somali chief.

    He also owns several other restaurants which I visited last month when I was filming a report on how the Somali capital was coming back to life at night.

    Ahmed's cafes are always a lively spot in the evenings. This is where you can buy a decent bowl of spaghetti or drink a fresh mango juice. The coffee is excellent and the conversations always fascinating.

    The Village is also supposed to be in a relatively safe area, surrounded by non-profit organisations and local government buildings, and about a kilometre from the presidential palace.

    There are guards on the street outside, as well as at the door, both women and men are searched before they enter. But somehow, two suicide bombers managed to walk inside and blow themselves up. The pictures I have seen show toppled plastic tables and chairs, and the sand floor of the cafe stained with blood.

    The National Union of Somali Journalists said three journalists were among the 15 dead. They include Liban Ali Nur, head of News of Somali National TV Abdisatar Daher Sabriye, head of news of Radio Mogadishu and Abdirahman Yasin Ali, director of Radio Hamar.

    The restaurant is also popular with diaspora Somalis, who recently returned to rebuild their country. They too are now among the dead and wounded.

    Biggest challenge

    The election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was supposed herald the beginning of change for the country. When I interviewed Hassan Sheikh the day before he was elected, he admitted to me that security would be his biggest challenge if he won.

    And since his inauguration, he has had the toughest of weeks: there was an assassination attempt on his life, and now this attack at the very heart of his city.

    There has been so much progress made in the past year. Mogadishu on the whole is a more stable and peaceful place, and the armed Somali group al-Shabab is on the brink of losing its key stronghold, the port of Kismayo, to African Union and Somali national forces.

    It appears that al-Shabab has taken responsibility for this latest blast. Abdi Aynte, a friend and a fellow journalist, said: "It is attacks like this which make al-Shabab unpopular and widely hated by the Somali people."

    It is not clear yet whether this is a last stand by al-Shabab or the beginning of another long and terrifying campaign.


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