Mogadishu mayor dies in Qatar after suicide attack

Abdirahman Omar Osman had sustained serious injuries from an al Shabaab suicide bomb attack in Mogadishu before being flown to Qatar for treatment.

MOGADISHU - The mayor of Mogadishu has died a week after being seriously wounded in an Al-Shabaab suicide attack at his office that also claimed the lives of six others, the government said Thursday.

Mayor Abdirahman Omar Osman was airlifted to Qatar for treatment with nine others following the July 24 attack but died while doctors were treating him at a hospital in Doha.

Qatar’s move to transfer the wounded for treatment was seen by analysts as a reaction to The New York Times’ detailed report that allegedly implicated Doha in a bombing in the Somali port of Bosaso last May.

"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 local government, said.

Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed praised Abdirahman, who was a naturalised Briton and worked as a London councillor for the Labour party before returning to his war-torn homeland, as a public servant dedicated to rebuilding the country.

"He had sacrificed his life and time serving the Somali public," the president said in a statement.

"He will be remembered for his dedication to serving the people and the country, as well as working hard to develop Mogadishu while taking a clear stand in the fight against terrorism."

The president declared three days of mourning for the mayor, ordering that flags be flown at half-mast.

Abdirahman's son, Mohamed A. Omar, offered a moving tribute to his late father.

"Today the people of Mogadishu lose their mayor; but I lost my father," he posted on Twitter, accompanied by a picture of his father in a sky-blue suit attending his son's graduation.

"May Allah grant him the highest rank of paradise."

Duty remembered

Abdirahman was among several people seriously wounded when a suicide bomber detonated inside the headquarters of Banadir district, which encompasses Mogadishu.

Six people, including two district commissioners and three directors, were killed in the blast where officials were meeting.

The attack was claimed by Al-Shabaab, the Al-Qaeda linked militants who have waged a years-long deadly insurgency against the Western-backed government in Mogadishu.

The jihadists said they were targeting UN special envoy James Swan, who had been in the building just hours earlier.

Swan condemned the "heinous" attack on those trying to rebuild their country and improve the lives of its citizens.

Abdirahman returned to Somalia in 2008 after 17 years in Britain, where he studied and worked in the district of Ealing as a councillor overseeing housing and crime issues.

He became mayor of Mogadishu in January 2018 after having served as a minister in the current government and previous administrations.

Al-Shabaab was chased out of Mogadishu in 2011 but the capital is still hit regularly by the militants, who retained control of large swathes of the countryside.

Just days before the attack on his office, Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a car bombing at a checkpoint near Somalia's main airport that killed 17 and left many more wounded.

Earlier last month, the militants bombed a hotel in the southern Somali port city of Kismayo before storming it with gunmen in a bloody assault that left 26 dead, including foreigners.

Abdinur Mohamed Ahmed, a spokesman for the president, said the mayor's death would unite Somalis in the fight against extremism.

"We extend our condolences to the family and friends of the Mogadishu mayor, Abdirahman Omar Osman, and we share our grief regarding this painful death with the entire Somali public," he said in a statement.