Among the survivors of al-Shabaab’s attack on a beachside restaurant in Somalia’s capital was Mohamed Abdiqani Kheyre. He is only 3 years old, and his mother was killed.
Witnesses said the Islamic extremists entered the restaurant from the beach Thursday evening, shouting “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” as they fired at people indiscriminately. More than 20 people were killed in the attack.
On Friday, relatives were identifying the dead. The bodies were laid out on the sand, their heads covered by yellow tablecloths, many soaked with blood. Some family members burst into tears upon discovering the body of a loved one.
The beach, which symbolised the resurgence of Somalia’s capital in recent years with people flocking to the shore and swimming in the Indian Ocean, had become a scene of bottomless grief. One woman beat her chest, whispering the name of her son who was killed in the attack. She collapsed as his bloodied body was transported into an ambulance. “They randomly fired at people sitting near the beach before entering the restaurant,” said Ahmed Nur, who was strolling along the shoreline when the attack happened. A party had been taking place when the attack started.
After identifying the dead, relatives carried bodies away.
The Liido Seafood restaurant was littered with blood-stained, overturned chairs, tables, shoes and bullet casings, the walls scarred from bullet impacts and blackened with soot.
The attack came a week after al-Shabaab overran a Kenyan army base in Somalia, signalling the group’s resilience despite military setbacks inflicted by a U.S.-backed regional force operating in the country.
On a normal Friday, Liido Beach would be packed with hundreds of people surfing, swimming and strolling along the white sand. On this day, armed soldiers stood guard near the beach. Fishing boats that would normally transport picnickers drifted at anchor in the blue waters.