Left Menu
Development News Edition

EXCLUSIVE-U.N. says Somali militants using home-made explosives to step up attacks

Reuters | Updated: 17-05-2019 17:36 IST | Created: 17-05-2019 15:21 IST
EXCLUSIVE-U.N. says Somali militants using home-made explosives to step up attacks
Image Credit: Flickr

Somali Islamist insurgents are making their own explosives, according to a confidential U.N. report seen by Reuters, as they mount more frequent and deadly attacks.

The findings are a blow for internationally backed efforts to fight the al Shabaab insurgency, which has repeatedly carried out attacks in East Africa and launched dozens in Somalia this year despite a dramatic increase in U.S. air strikes. "For the first time, post-blast laboratory analyses ... indicate a clear shift in al Shabaab construction methods, away from the use of military-grade explosives and towards HME (home-made explosives," said a confidential report by the U.N. panel of experts on Somalia, which was seen by Reuters.

"Information from a range of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) experts suggests a probable connection between the development of HME by al Shabaab and the recent increased frequency of major attacks in Mogadishu." The analysis was based on at least 20 attacks since July 2018, the report said.

It specify who did the analysis, but footnotes cited the U.N. Mine Action Service, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and experts who were not named but only identified by the dates on which they were interviewed. The U.N. panel declined to comment, and the two organisations did not respond to questions from Reuters.

Somali government officials could not be reached for comment. Lt Col Charles Imbiakha, spokesman for the African Union peacekeeping force AMISOM, said it could not comment because it had not seen the report. Al Shabaab, which wants to rule Somalia in line with a strict interpretation of sharia law, has carried out at least 19 attacks with vehicle-borne bombs that have killed more than five people in Mogadishu since September, the report found.

Hitherto, the insurgency has mostly relied on military-grade explosives, laboriously harvested by specialists from ordnance such as mines or mortars captured from soldiers or peacekeepers. But the attacks have become more frequent, or in some cases more dramatic - most notably the truck bomb that killed more than 500 people in October 2017 at a junction where street vendors were selling petrol.

Experts have long suspected that that bomb may have used some home-made explosives, but no evidence had been made public. The U.N. panel report also does not offer evidence but notes that al Shabaab would have needed explosives from approximately 6,000 mortars to carry out a blast of that size.

It said al Shabaab bombmakers were now mixing highly explosive nitroglycerine with ammonium nitrate or potassium nitrate - both used in fertilisers - and charcoal, although it did not say where they were being obtained. A raid on an underground site in Mogadishu last month recovered components and chemicals that included aluminium paste, which can enhance the thermal effect of a detonation, the report said.

There are no public statistics on bombings in Somalia. The U.S. Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization, part of the Pentagon, said it did not track bombings and the Somali government does not release statistics. (Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington D.C. and Abdi Sheikh in Mogadishu; Editing by Alison Williams and Kevin Liffey)


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

‘Discounted Deaths’ and COVID 19: Anthropology of Death and Emotions

Death is a social event rather than the mere cessation of biological functions. As seen by anthropologists, death is not just physical but intensely social, cultural, and political....

Indigenous knowledge of communities a must for maximizing impact of community work

Generally, it has been observed that the majority of the academicians in higher education institutions neglect the wisdom of community people and throw their weight around thinking that they know everything and the community knows nothing. ...

In rebuking FBR, Pakistan’s courts take a stand for public health

The system, if implemented effectively, will allow Pakistans revenue service to combat the illicit trade in tobacco products and potentially add hundreds of millions of dollars to the states budget each year. ...

Dissecting how COVID-19 is catalyzing the trajectory of New World Order

The ensuing pandemic of COVID-19 has hit the globalization in two ways firstly, shrinking the importance of globalization as an economic force by curtailing mobility through worldwide lockdowns, and secondly, rejuvenating the idea of indig...

Videos

Latest News

Indian doctors go online to treat patients amid coronavirus outbreak

As Indias health system grapples with the coronavirus, doctors are increasingly going online to consult with patients suffering less critical or chronic diseases, while the south Asian economy prepares to emerge from a nationwide lockdown.T...

Taiwan president visits bookshop to show solidarity with Hong Kongers

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday visited a bookshop that has become a symbol of resistance to perceived Chinese encroachments on Hong Kongs liberties, vowing to give help to the citys citizens fleeing to the democratic island. Tsai t...

French carmaker Renault announces 15,000 job cuts worldwide

Struggling French carmaker Renault on Friday announced 15,000 job cuts worldwide as part of a 2 billion-euro cost-cutting plan over three years. Renault said on Friday that nearly 4,600 jobs will be cut in France in addition to more than 10...

European shares step back, Trump's China response awaited

European shares pulled back on Friday as market participants turned their focus to Washingtons response to the Chinese parliaments approval of a national security law for Hong Kong, but major indexes were on course to finish May with solid ...

Give Feedback