Somalia: Bomb blast survivor, relives fateful day last October

By Ali Muhiyaddiin

MOGADISHU (Caasimada Online)—A traditional elder Adan Muse Hassan’s day started with optimism on October 14th  of 2017. He predicted another rewarding day, as he carried out the challenging task of resolving disputes and encouraging reconciliation, within the capital Mogadishu.

The sunny morning coupled with the gentle breeze from the imposing waters of the  Indian Ocean,  was the perfect weather he had hoped for,  to enable him carry out his tasks.

On the fateful day, Adan left his house in Hamar Jajab district early in the morning to meet a group of elders from two feuding clans at Kilometre 4 area. He had barely brokered a peace deal, when he received a call asking him to rush to Digfeer hospital to resolve a quarrel between two individuals, who had been involved in a road accident.

“I managed to resolve the conflict and we agreed that the accident victim be compensated for the injuries he sustained, and I decided to rush back home to attend to other matters,” he explains.

By that time, the afternoon temperatures had sored beyond 33 degrees centigrade and to avoid the scorching sun, Adan boarded a rickshaw, locally known as Bajaaj, to take him home but got stuck in the traffic jam as he approached the busy and crowded Zoobe intersection.

Suddenly, the afternoon calm was disrupted by twin explosions which tore through people and buildings.  The powerful blast swept the rickshaw off the road and into the air, before it landed on its side, and reduced to smithereens by the impact of the explosion.

“I saw my left leg break just below my knee when the Bajaaj landed on its side. My right eye was also injured after I fell on the ground. I could not trace where my driver was,” recalls the father of 10 children.

He tried to free himself from the mangled wreckage but toxic fumes that engulfed the area not only blurred his vision but also made breathing difficult.

“My mouth, ears and nose were full of dust particles from collapsed buildings. I was gasping for air and I felt like it was the end of the world,” he says.

Despite being weak and in pain, Adan refused to give up and managed to free himself from the wreckage after several attempts. He crawled on the hard surface evading human body parts strewn on the road.

Adan was saved by a team of rescuers and rushed to Daru Shifa hospital, before being flown to Turkey the following day for specialised treatment. The 62-year-old spent three months at Polatli state hospital in the capital city, Ankara, where doctors managed to fix his broken leg and also operated on his injured eye.

Adan no longer walks or travels long distances due to constant pain on his left leg and uses a special pair of eyeglasses to improve his sight.  His health condition in the aftermath of the blast impeded his movements, and he can no longer resolve as many cases as he used to before the explosion.

“My life has drastically changed. I now use a walking stick to support myself and my income flow is irregular. I can earn today and go home with nothing the following day,” notes Adan.

The elderly man still experiences flashbacks and has difficulties sleeping at night. He dreads cold nights – as they aggravate his body pains.

As Somalis mark the first anniversary of the October 14th bomb attack, which killed over 600-people and maimed tens of others,  Adan urges his fellow Somalis to forgive each other and reconcile for the sake of achieving lasting peace and security.

The bomb blast, one of the deadliest in the country’s history, attracted mass condemnation from the international community who rallied behind the people of Somalia.

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), in coordination with the Somali security forces acted swiftly after the attack, to secure the area and help in recovery efforts. The AU Mission remains committed to finding a lasting solution to the indiscriminate use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by anti-government elements in Somalia, and is working with the Somali government and partners to put a check on the IED menace.

To date, a lot of progress has been made, with several IEDs recovered and safely detonated.