Trade union members accused after losing leader in bomb blast
A deadly terrorist attack rocked Mogadishu in Somalia yesterday when a female suicide bomber working as a receptionist blew herself up at the Central Hotel during Friday prayers. 25 people were killed and more than 40 people wounded. Two of the dead were prominent trade unionists, and 5 were hotel workers (as well as seven staff wounded), but, while the hotel owners were allowed to go free, 21 hotel workers found themselves arrested.
Omar Faruk Osman, General Secretary of the Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU), said:
“While we need the security authorities to get to the bottom of this matter and find out how and why a hotel receptionist, returning from the Netherlands, became radicalised and chose suicide, we are deeply concerned by the security situation in Mogadishu and the welfare of the Somali workers.
“We find it arbitrary and very disturbing that 21 workers of the hotel were arrested by the National Intelligence and Security Agency while they let the owners of the hotel (who employed the receptionist) off the hook. We demand that innocent hotel workers must not be treated as scapegoats and they need to be freed.”
The dead included Mohamed Mohamud, Deputy General Secretary of the Somali Hotel and Catering Workers Union (SHCWU), whose body was only found this morning as the explosion threw his body away from the hotel. Deputy Minister of Information of Puntland, Abdishakur Mire Adan, founding member of the Somali journalists’ union NUSOJ – Omar’s union – before he turned politician, also died in the attack. Omar said:
“A close friend of mine, Mohamud was emailing last Thursday about his union’s delegation to an upcoming international union activity in Kigali, Rwanda. Mohamud was buried today. He was an energetic, dedicated, brave and committed union fighter.”
The acting prime minister of Somalia and two ministers were wounded in the attack, and two parliamentarians were killed, including Omar Ali Nur, who has been a staunch ally, friend and supporter of workers and unions in the federal parliament. FESTU strongly condemned the brutal and deplorable attack at the Central Hotel. We offer our sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed or injured in this heinous attack.
In its meeting with the Internal Security Minister today, FESTU insisted that the constant attacks against innocent civilians, government officials and the security forces must be addressed urgently. This attack highlights the need for government, security forces and communities to work together in addressing security and extremism. Omar Faruk Osman said:
“We need to put national interests above personal interests in order to improve the security of our country. We should be determined to work at addressing the root causes of violence in our society through engagements with government, religious and cultural leaders and our communities.”
ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow was among many trade unionists from Africa and Europe who today sent condolences to the families of those killed and injured in Mogadishu. She wrote:
“We watched this incident with horror and sadness for the loss of life. Our sympathies are with you all especially the families of those who died.”