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21 September 2017 23:22 (South Africa)

Ordinary Somalis protest al-Shabaab violence

Hundreds of Somalis took to the streets of the capital, Mogadishu, to protest against radical Islamist group al-Shabaab after three government ministers were among more than 20 people killed in a suicide bombing last week. Most of the dead were newly graduated medical students. In an extraordinary move, the protesters burned the group's flag in what is seen as an unprecedented show of anger against the militants, who want to impose strict sharia law on Somalia. Al-Shabaab controls large parts of the country and was widely blamed for the atrocity. But in another unusual move for Somalia, the group immediately denied its involvement in the bombing, perhaps realising this was a bridge too far. Al-Shabaab is responsible for numerous killings of African Union peacekeepers and attacks on the fragile UN-backed government. There are other militant groups battling across the war-torn country, but this time it looks like al-Shabaab has seriously damaged its reputation, whether guilty or not. The US says the group is a proxy for al-Qeada, which is looking to gain a foothold in Africa. Meanwhile, Somali police have citied intelligence reports that say al-Shabaab has prepared two suicide bombers disguised as military and police officers, and is planning to strike Mogadishu's port and airport. Read more: BBC, Reuters

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