We must never forget the tragedy of October 14th, 2017 – UM

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Mogadishu (UM) – Somalia is still mourning the violent and cruel murder of over 500 people during the Zoobe terrorist attack on 14th October last year. The world watched shocked as a speeding truck suddenly exploded taking with it human life, private property and forever leaving the Somali people with a deep feeling of emptiness, anger and fear.

The scale of the attack was catastrophic, and it is probably one of the most devastating terrorist attacks in modern history. It was so destructive that to this day no organisation has claimed responsibility for it despite the government and members of the international community blaming Al-Shabaab.

The Somali government and people’s response were commendable with effective national coordination and Somalia’s international partners must also be thanked for their positive response led by Turkey and Turkish Airlines who were the first responders on the ground. During the misery, Somalia and the world came together in anger and noble promises were made to find the murderers, compensate the traders who lost everything and to bring the Somali people and security services closer together to fight terrorism. These promises are yet to be achieved but the attack of October 14th woke everybody up to take charge of their future.

On October 14th President Mohammed Abdullahi Farmaajo must visit Zoobe and meet the victims to reassure them that his government is going to fulfil its promises of compensation or support to re-establish destroyed businesses and recover lost livelihoods. Many victims have lost everything and with this entire families are suffering. The President and opposition leaders must also not politicise this day because it is a day of mourning and reflection. Let people grief and be angry but in the end, after all the tears, Somalis must agree on the importance of working together to rebuild their country free from violence and terrorism. Whether in government, business or even a child lucky enough to be attending school, terrorism and the poverty that fuels it, is the common enemy we must defeat together.

On October 14th the President must address his people from the site of the tragedy and answer just a few questions: What really happened? What has been the governments response? What must we do to defend ourselves against such evil in the future? These are deep questions that we must all think about. The plotters and killers were most likely Somalis, the facilitators were Somalis, the victims were all Somalis and the security services tasked with stopping the tragedy were Somalis. This is a painful and shameful fact we must get to grips with as a nation. We are killing each other, destroying our country and burying our personal and national hopes. The national pain, loss and disappointment will only lessen when we cooperate to rebuild our country.

October 14th should not be a day of blame. Many people failed, including the members of the security forces and public. We must stop asking “What If” and progress to “What next” to be safe. This is the best way we can honour the memories of all the victims of the painful October 14th attack and safeguard our national security.

Mr. President, on 14th October please do not wear military uniform and give us a political speech. We just need to know what happened and how we should ensure it never happens again.

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