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Mogadishu mayor dies after al-Shabab attack

August 1, 2019

Mogadishu mayor Abdirahman Omar Osman has died in a Qatari clinic, a week after al-Shahab extremists targeted his office. The former London councilor becomes the seventh victim of the bombing in the Somali capital.

Mogadishu Mayor Abdirahman Omar Osman is seen at an event in Mogadishu, Somalia April 19, 2017.
Image: Reuters/F. Omar

Mogadishu mayor Abdirahman Omar Osman was airlifted with severe wounds to Doha after a female suicide bomber managed to elude security checks and enter the mayor's office on July 24, killing six people and wounding Osman.

Responsibility for the attack was claimed at the time by al-Shabab jihadists suspected to have been planning to kill an American who is the new United Nations envoy to Somalia.

UN envoy James Swan had left Osman's office shortly before the detonation, which happened within meters of Osman and his staff.

Read more: living in Mogadishu despite al-Shabab threats

"The Mogadishu mayor has died today in Qatar. May Allah rest his soul. The other injured ones are still being treated there in Qatar," Saleh Omar Hassan, the spokesman for Mogadishu's local government, told Reuters.

Three days of mourning

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed declared three days of mourning for the mayor, ordering that flags be flown at half-mast.

Condolences also included a US mission tweet, describing Osman as a "tireless advocate for the people of Mogadishu and all Somalis."

Britain's ambassador to Somalia, Ben Fender, using Osman's nickname, Yarisow ("young engineer"), wrote in a tweet: "We will join hands to finish the work you started."

Engineering degree, councilor

Osman fled a civil war in Somalia in 1991 for Britain, where he earned an engineering degree and became a Labour Party councilor in London.

He returned to an uncertain future around 2010 and served the first of two stints as Somalia's information minister.

Osman struggled to keep the electric generator at Radio Mogadishu running, despite it being targeted by al-Shabab, British communications consultant Richard Bailey told Reuters last month.

Osman sought reconstruction 

He was appointed mayor of Somali in 2018 and set about reconstructing Mogadishu's rubble-strewn streets.

Osman introduced more measures to intercept potential car bombs and tried to find land, shelter and jobs for those fleeing the conflict, Fender also told Reuters.

Life in Mogadishu

Despite 2011 eviction, al-Shabab strikes

Days before the assault on the mayor's office, a car bomb detonated at a checkpoint near Somalia's international airport, killing 17 people and wounding more than than two dozen others.

Al-Shabab was evicted from Mogadishu by African Union and Somali transitional government forces in 2011.

The militia still controls parts of Somalia's southern and central regions and has often targeted high-profile locations and people in Mogadishu.

ipj/amp (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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