Re: The Utter Devastation I Witnessed

Article Re: The Utter Devastation I Witnessed
MAY 7, 2022 LISTEN

Twin blasts in Beletwein town in Hiran region still haunting my memories. Being a lecturer in English Language and literature at Mogadishu and City Universities, I taught English literature for both undergraduate and graduate students in both Universities,

as I have alluded earlier. I was born, raised and educated in Beletwein and took all my high school education in Beletwein a town which is 300 Km from Northeast of Somalia.

It was March, 2022 I frequently traveled to Beletwein my Ancestral hometown since I concluded my high school education in Beletwein in Mid 2009.

This was my fifth trip to the town, in the past 13 years I had an ample opportunity to visit my grandparents who still live there, whenever I had an academic recess. I paid a visit to Beletwein which is considered to be the breadbasket for Somalia in terms of agriculture and livestock rearing.

My city is hosting the election of 25 members of the house of the people of Somalia's federal parliament and intense electioneering was underway. A parliamentary candidates were flying with us and each has its retinue accompanying him or her.

we had to wait for a few minutes due to long queues of passengers willing to board the plane as soon as we boarded the plane, the plane took off immediately, inside the plane brief ceremony to welcome and inspire the candidates were organized by his or her entourage.

He was MP for the last four years and currently he was lobbying to retain his seat. Supporters loyal to him were thronged in front of the new terminal. Some were dancing folklore dances "Wilisaqo' a famous and traditional dance in Hiran region as soon as the plane landed and were allowed to disembark,

women wearing a traditional dresses were dancing, while others were waving the Somali flag to showcase solidarity, synergy and patriotism. Armed soldiers and vehicles were around the crowd due to sweltering heat. We entered the terminal swiftly and waited there for our pickup.

I lived in Beletwein for almost eight years. (2002-2010) that was the most complex and challenging period of my life because I lost my grandfather who was ailing throat cancer for ages and finally paid the Ultimate price.

I remember the day my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. But we initially thought to be minor and curable disease All my family members were petrified, upset and frustrated and said cancer has no panacea at all.

In Somalia there is no professional oncologist at all.let alone to have three types of oncologists namely: medical oncologists, surgical oncologists and radiation oncologists who can diagnose, prevent and treat types of cancer Majority of the patients ailing with cancer are airlifted to Turkey or India to receive further and effective treatment.

We were able financially to airlift my grandfather to India but the country was in lockdown due Covid_19 pandemic.

In Somalia the first case of covid_19 was confirmed on 16th of March, 2020, A Somali national who came from China was tested positive and was immediately quarantined. This gruesome incident has left indelible mark in my heart and still remains fresh in my memory.

I used to live in Bundoweyn village. I would go to school in the Morning without even drinking a tea. At 9:30 am we had a short 30 minutes interval, during thus breaktime, I used to go our house in Koshin Village for breakfast. I had to hurry. It would take 12 minutes to reach and another 12 minutes to come back to school. Therefore, while I was doing my best to be on time. Sometimes the school gate would be closed.

It was 21th March, 2022, I was sitting with my grandmother enjoying cool breeze after sweltering day and It was 7:30 pm and I was sipping with Coffee due to being Coffee maniac and was reading a book authored by Mary Harper BBC east Africa editor due to being Bibliophile and my grandma was narrating my siblings.

Suddenly we heard huge, deafening sound of explosion. Then we rushed to the scene of the explosion and were told that the blast was carried out by suicide bomber and were very close to the scene of the detonation.

And soon it turned into Chaotic, apocalyptic and helter skelter. Human flesh scattered the whole areas. Corpses charred beyond recognition.

Our youngest sibling has perished in that blast and his body was slashed into pieces due the scale and magnitude of the blast as someone hacked to death with machetes and my grandmother was also sustained a minor injury when a shrapnel torn down and penetrated her neck and started bleeding.

My grandmother had narrowly survived last month's blast in Beletwein. My beloved city may never recover the impact of this blast or it may take years to recover. There was also prior and devastating blast which occurred February 19th, 2022 when 10 people were killed and dozens injured.

My grandmother told us to remain indoors and be vigilant for potential and vicious cycle of explosions due to electioneering.

After two restive nights and spent much of our time at home the apocalypse that my grandma had projected finally came. Colossal and massive explosion was heard once again, a close proximity to our grandmother's home. This explosion was unprecedented in terms of scale and damage and has caused irreparable losses to the entire city.

We heard wailing and mourning from the victims and relatives asking for help and we did everything possible to assist the victims, ever since the news broke, fortunately we receive an ambulance and we rushed the victims to the hospital. The first explosion was carried out by a man wearing explosive vest as he approached and embraced the lawmaker Amina Mohamed and blew himself up she was the prime target of the suicide bomber.

The late MP was vocal and fierce government critic and became prominent due to her fiery speeches advocating for Justice of the downtrodden, marginalized and voiceless communities and she succumbed at the scene of the

explosion, while others were rushed to the main hospital where the injuries were taken. Car laden with explosive devices was used in the second blast which was devastating. And the death toll has soared exponentially from 15 to 40 as initially reported.

As far as we can confirm, 48 people were killed and 108 others injured in the twin blast Said Ali Gudlawe Hussein, leader of Hirshabelle state citing these blasts. were planned and deliberate

. On the other hand the caretaker Prime Minister Said he knows the culprits behind the killing of Amina Mohamed. A female MP. Roble has vowed to work tirelessly on finding justice for the slain lawmaker killed in Beletwein blasts last week by Alshebab suicide bomber.

Without providing empirical evidence to substantiate his claims as the names of the killers, The PM said the murder was politically motivated. Amina was running for her third time as a legislator, the eulogy was attended by former presidents, Various officials, members of both houses of parliament, religious scholars, civil society activists and relatives of late MP.

The worst nightmare came, when special troops known as "Haramcad" or Cheetah in English were deployed in and around the explosion scene soon as they launched an offensive dubbed "Iron Hammer" to trace, hunt down and stamp out the remnants of the extremist groups who were hiding in the area.

They raided the entire neighborhoods and conducted house to house search without search warrant from court and rounded up dozens of people who were suspected of aiding and abetting or conniving with the suicide bomber because the suicide bomber didn't act alone and still the accomplices who were the Mastermind of the blasts. are in the city

I was among the youth that was rounded up, we were blindfolded and our hands were bound on our back and they started clubbing, beating and kicking us and opened several bullets on air, we were tortured and ill-treated absolutely complete victimization

We petrified and thought our days are numbered and this was the harrowing and melancholic ordeal that had gone through in my life. They singled out few individuals and tge rest were released.

My grandmother kept crying until I arrived at home and she presumed that I was dead because she heard the sounds of gunfire at point blank or close range and she thought that we were shot or summarily executed at the scene.

To get the matter worse my grandmother was diagnosed with Post stress traumatic disorder "PTSD" due to heartwrenching and shocking episode she has gone through.

Killing spree and the rampage that my beloved city had gone through. The twin blasts of Beletwein has became a matter of public discussion.

The residents of my town was given a 24-hour ultimatum to leave or be killed after four days, the tension, consternation and mistrust had subsided after the situation returned to normal. The darkest and gloomiest days in my life. The terrifying reminder of suicide bombing and shooting spree whenever I heard the phrase of Beletwein town blast.

Tears are bursting out into my eyes, days of bloodshed and devastation, still I can see a mutilated bodies and life-threatening torture I had gone through still remains fresh in my mind. I felt demoralizing the way the security forces dealt us because we were innocent, we haven't committed any crime.

Whenever I heard an explosion it reopens old wounds of trauma and fear but my grandmother inspired me by saying we were reduced to ashes, but we know how to rise from ashes.

She also said our cry has fallen on deaf ears, the only option is to hold back tears but this wound would never heal. Still the blood stains on the victim's clothes and bullet holes in the wall and windows.still remains fresh in my memory.

Most of our neighbours have fled from the city due to the unfolding hostility and the only thing I have seen for that day was trucks loaded with Mattresses, furniture, electronic appliances and household items moving from one direction to another. And it reminds me the looting spree that took place at the beginning of civil strife.

My town has turned into a ghost city what a frightening days we had gone through. The expressions that still echoing my ears I offer sincere condolence to the bereaved families and wished them speedy recovery and called for investigation and accountability for the perpetrators these cliches repeatedly used by Somali politicians.

My hometown was decimated by series of explosions and most of its denizens were uprooted briefly but now it has recovered and the business is thriving as usual.

As a child who grew up in hostile environment and war-shattered country, this episode I have witnessed personally traumatized me and took me years to recover it also reminiscent the scars and scourge we inherited from the internecine conflict which unleashed pain, anguish, suffering and total devastation, millions vanished and entire regions wiped out. And nepotism, favoritism and cronyism fully entrenched.


MOHAMED HUSSEIN MENTALIST: Author, blogger, prominent researcher, Horn of Africa Affairs analyst and senior lecturer at Mogadishu University.

AUTHOR: Holds BA in English Language and literature at Mogadishu University and BA in Business administration at Simad University. Master of arts in applied Linguistics at Kisii University in Nairobi as well as Master of peace and conflict studies at Uppsala University in Sweden.

Mohamed Hussein Mentalist
Mohamed Hussein Mentalist

East Africa correspondent of ModernGhana. Page: MohamedHusseinMentalist