, MOGADISHU, Apr 6 – Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali told AFP on Friday that a suicide attack this week at Mogadishu’s national theatre where he was giving an address was an attempt to assassinate him.
Four people, including Somalia’s Olympic committee chief and the football federation president, were killed Wednesday when a female suicide bomber blew herself up at the newly reopened theatre.
“The attempt on my life and other government officials was the last kick of a dying horse. They killed very prominent Somali personalities but they failed to intimidate us,” Ali said in an interview, referring to Islamist Shabaab rebels.
The Al Qaeda-linked insurgents claimed responsibility for the blast, the latest in a series of attacks against the Western-backed government since the rebels withdrew from fixed bases in the war-torn capital last August.
“The Shabaab are in the dying moments, losing many of their strongholds. They are militarily weak and have low morale,” the prime minister said.
A broad offensive by Ethiopian and Kenyan forces in southern and western Somalia has forced the rebels from many of their strongholds, while African Union troops in Mogadishu have advanced onto the outskirts of the city.
Despite the losses, the Shabaab – Somalia’s most brutal militia – remain a serious threat to internationally backed efforts to restore stability in the Horn of African country plagued by a devastating civil war since 1991.