Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 6 December 2019

London Somalis mourn former resident turned mayor of Mogadishu killed in a suicide blast

Former council official had worked with Somali government before appointment

Mayor of Mogadishu Abdirahman Omar Osman spent 17 years living in the UK. AP
Mayor of Mogadishu Abdirahman Omar Osman spent 17 years living in the UK. AP

A suicide bomb attack has claimed the life of the mayor of Mogadishu who has died from injuries sustained in a blast that claimed the lives of at least six people last week.

Abdirahman Omar Osman spent 17 years in the UK after fleeing civil war in Somalia in the 1990s, earning citizenship and a master’s degree before returning to his homeland to work as an official in the national government and city official.

Mohamed Omar, his son and a student at London’s Queen Mary University, tweeted a tribute to his father. “Today the people of Mogadishu lose their mayor; but I lost my father. May Allah grant him the highest rank of paradise,” he wrote.

He worked as a housing manager at Ealing council in London, before returning to the country in 2008 to help with the rebuilding effort, serving as prime ministerial aide and minister of commerce and industry before being appointed mayor in 2018.

"Somalia has suffered so much from warlords, pirates and terrorists," he said in 2012. "Our capital city was destroyed. So much blood has been shed. The dreams of generations of our people have been destroyed.

"So when there was a chance to rebuild my country I knew I had to do it. We can make this a decent place. I am a hard worker and I want this task."

Respected for his contribution to the reconstruction of Somalia, Osman was known as Engineer Yarisow, the young engineer.

Mr Osman was an outspoken opponent of the militant group Al Shabab, which claimed responsibility for the attack on the mayor’s office and stated that the intended target was UN Special Representative for Somalia James Swan, who had met with the mayor hours earlier.

"The Somalis have had enough of war and warlordism, and they don't want the Shabaab any more. At the beginning they did because they brought order, but the Shabaab treated the people harshly and didn't allow them any freedom," Mr Osman added in the 2012 interview.

The group is an Al Qaeda affiliate waging a deadly insurgency against the government in Mogadishu.

It is not yet known how the female bomber managed to pass by four metal detectors intended to provide security for the mayor’s office.

In a tweet, British Ambassador to Somalia, Ben Fender pledged support to the mayor’s work to rebuild Somalia: “We will join hands to finish the work you started, and the Somalia we build will be your greatest memorial.”

James Swan offered his condolences in a statement on behalf of the UN mission in Somalia: “His life reflected a deep commitment to Somalia and his loss is felt by all of us.”

“His work must be continued, and those responsible must be brought to justice,” he added.

Updated: August 2, 2019 03:21 PM