Abdirahman Omar Osman, Mogadishu mayor, dies after suicide bombing

Mogadishu Mayor Abdirahman Omar Osman Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mayor of Mogadishu Abdirahman Omar Osman died from his injuries in Doha

The mayor of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu has died a week after being wounded in a suicide attack that killed at least six other people.

The female bomber blew herself up inside the office of Mayor Abdirahman Omar Osman during a security meeting.

Mr Osman, who fled to the UK during the civil war in the 1990s, became a councillor in London before returning in 2008 to help rebuild Somalia.

Militant Islamist group al-Shabab said it carried out the attack.

The mayor died in Doha, Qatar, where he was receiving treatment.

Al-Shabab’s apparent target was the new UN special envoy to Somalia, James Swan, a US citizen. He had already left the building after meeting the mayor on 24 July.

It is unclear how the bomber managed to enter the heavily guarded offices.

Other victims included high-ranking local officials.

Who was the mayor?

Mr Osman fled Somalia in the early 1990s as a refugee, before achieving a postgraduate degree and UK citizenship. He also served as a councillor for the centre-left Labour Party in the London borough of Ealing.

He returned to Somalia in 2008, where he served as information minister before becoming mayor of Mogadishu last year.

In a tweet, the US mission to Somalia called Mr Osman “an excellent partner and tireless advocate for the people of Mogadishu and all Somalis”.

Al-Shabab seeks to overthrow Somalia’s central government and has been carrying out regular attacks in Mogadishu, despite the heavy presence of African Union peacekeepers and US-trained Somali troops.

The group is affiliated with al-Qaeda and remains a powerful presence in rural Somalia.

Few politicians did more, risked more

Andrew Harding, BBC Africa correspondent

In a dangerous city of bitter factions, he always stood out, a gentle, decent man – focused on the business of getting things done.

His nickname was Engineer Yarisow – the small engineer – a reference to his height, his qualifications, and his practical nature.

Like many Somalis, he’d fled abroad during the civil war and spent decades in London. Engineer Yarisow became a British citizen, a Labour councillor and a pillar of the community.

But he left it all behind to return to Mogadishu a decade ago. It was a brave move and, as he knew, a risky one.

Since then, thousands of members of the diaspora have gone back to Somalia to help rebuild it, in defiance of the Islamist militants of al-Shabab.

I met Engineer Yarisow many times in Mogadishu – where he was first a cabinet minister, then a spokesman, and until his death, the city’s mayor.

Somalia’s journey back to stability has been long, and remains unfinished.

But it is, I think, fair to argue that few people – few politicians – did more, risked more, gave more than Engineer Yarisow.


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