Somaliland Blames Oct Suicide Attacks On Shebab Group

Somaliland Blames Oct Suicide Attacks On Shebab Group
Thursday November 27th, 2008
(Updates with Shebab leaders named)
HARGEYSA, Somalia (AFP)--Multiple suicide attacks that killed 20 victims in Somaliland last month were masterminded by the Somalian Islamist group Shebab, according to the findings of an inquiry released Thursday.
"The terrorist attacks in Hargeysa were masterminded by Shebab radical leaders," Abdullahi Ismail Ali, the northern breakaway state's interior minister, told reporters as he unveiled the report by the government.
Six bombers were also killed in the three simultaneous car bombings on October 29 in Somaliland's capital Hargeysa.
The Shebab are an armed Islamist organization which was initially the military and youth branch of the Islamic Courts Union that briefly controlled most of Somalia in 2006 before being ousted by Ethiopian troops.
While the ICU's political leadership fled into exile, the Shebab reverted to guerrilla warfare. They have since achieved major military gains and now control much of the country.
"The Shebab planned and funded the attacks and sent agents to carry out the attacks," added Ali. "Six of the suicide bombers were killed in the three locations attacked. Five are from neighboring lawless Somalia and one from Somaliland."
The bombs targeted the local office of the U.N. Development Program, Ethiopia's representation in Somaliland and the presidential palace.
Twin suicide car bombings simultaneously targeted the offices of an anti-terrorism agency in two different locations in Bosasso, the economic capital of the neighboring breakaway state of Puntland.
The interior minister named some of the Shebab movement's top figures, including top spokesman Mukhtar Robow (also known as Abu Mansur) and overall leader Ahmed Abdi Godane (also known as Abu Zubayr).
"Senior leadership members Ahmed Abdi Godane and Mukhtar Robow were in charge of the operation but the Hargeysa attacks were conducted by Abdulfatah Abdullahi Gutale," Ali said. He added Gutale, who was not among the bombers, may have a U.S. green card and has lived in the U.S. in the Minneapolis area. The minister named Gutale's lieutenant as Nur Sheikh Mohamud. The minister also said 13 people suspected of taking part in the attacks are currently detained in Somaliland.