Al-Hidaya Mosque massacre

The Al-Hidaya Mosque massacre occurred on 20 April 2008, when Ethiopian soldiers killed 21 worshippers, including an Imam and several Islamic scholars, at a mosque in Mogadishu, Somalia. During the attack, 41 school children at the mosque were abducted and detained for several days at a nearby military base by troops from the Ethiopian National Defence Force. The massacre inflamed the rising anti-Ethiopian insurgent movement.[1]

Al-Hidaya Mosque massacre
Part of the Battle of Mogadishu (2008) and Ethiopian occupation of Somalia
LocationHuriwa District, Mogadishu
Date20 April 2008
Deaths21 killed
VictimsIslamic clerics & students
PerpetratorEthiopia Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF)



Al-Hidaya is one of the biggest mosques in the Somali capital and is situated in the Huriwa District. In the years before the Ethiopian invasion it became a place of worship for adherents to Sufism, in particular the Tablighi Jamaat.[1] The Tablighi were not involved in the largely Islamic insurgency that coalesced in early 2007,[2] and at the time mosque also operated as a religious madrasa for children.[3]

During the April 2008 Battle of Mogadishu, the most fierce clashes since the start of the year was raging between the Somali fighters and ENDF troops.[4] Huriwa and neighboring districts were a focal point of the battles.[5] As fierce fighting was underway in Huriwa during the 19th and 20th of April, al-Hidaya came under deliberate artillery fire from Ethiopian forces.[6]



According to numerous witnesses, on Sunday April 20th, Ethiopian troops stormed into the Al-Hidaya mosque where there were more than 100 people present including many school children.[3] Sheikh Hussein Ali, one of the clerics present, told BBC Somali that the Ethiopian army had fired at Al-Hidaya with a barrage of mortars and then advanced on the mosque with tanks.[3] The masjid's Imam and most senior leader, Sheikh Said Yahya, opened the mosques door in response to the soldiers knocking, and was killed by the Ethiopians.[2] Tablighi official Shiekh Abdi-kheyr Isse reported:

"The Ethiopians surrounded al-Hidaya Mosque on Sunday and killed [the] mullahs mercilessly, including Sheikh Sa'id, the chief of the group in southern Somalia,"[5]

Some worshippers were killed by shooting, while others had their throats cut.[2] A total of seven people were reported to have had their throats slit by the Ethiopians.[7] The soldiers left several bodies with their arms bound and throats cut lying outside the mosque.[8] Some of the clerics had been beheaded.[9] Residents who buried the victims reported that several of those killed had their hands cut off and backs broken. A total of 21 people were killed during the massacre, with 11 being murdered inside the mosque and others just outside. Some of those not killed by Ethiopian troops were detained and released the next day, under orders not to return to the mosque. Ethiopian soldiers claimed that 'training' was undergoing at the building.[2]

Abduction of school children


41 children, ranging from ages 9 to 14 years old, were in classes at the mosque during the killing and were detained by ENDF forces for days after at a military base in north Mogadishu. The Ethiopian troops said they would only release the children, 'if they were not terrorists'[7][10] and said they suspected the children of being trained for the insurgency at Al-Hidaya.[11] On 25 April 2008, the children were released.[12]

Aftermath and response


Several days after the massacre Amnesty International issued a statement condemning the ENDF for the massacre at al-Hidaya. The Ethiopian government denied being involved[13] and accused Amnesty International of "publicizing deliberately invented stories about the activities of Ethiopian troops.”[9] The Ethiopian backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) initially denied the incident took place, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Jangali calling reports of a massacre a 'baseless lie'.[14] President of the TFG, Abdullahi Yusuf, accused Islamic insurgents of dressing up in Ethiopian uniforms and committing the massacre.[9]

Insurgent factions such as Al-Shabaab, the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) and the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) publicly condemned the massacre. Spokesman for the ICU, Sheikh Mohamud Ibrahim Suley, issued a statement condemning both the Ethiopian army and the TFG for defending ENDF actions. Al-Shabaab declared it would avenge those killed.[15][6] The ARS announced that it had suspended peace talks with the TFG.[10] Several days earlier, head of the ARS Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, publicly announced:

"The Ethiopian forces backing the transitional government mercilessly killed many innocent people, including the people slaughtered at the al-Hidaya mosque...I am clearly stating that we will rethink about attending the expected talks in Djibouti."[8]

Human rights organizations warned that the murders by Ethiopian soldiers would 'dramatically strengthen' the groups fighting against the Ethiopian army. Mogadishu residents reported the massacre had convinced many people to join the anti-Ethiopian insurgency.[1]

See also



  1. ^ a b c Ryu, Alisha (2008-04-22). "Mogadishu residents express outrage after Ethiopian troops attack mosque". Voice of America. Retrieved 2024-04-20.
  2. ^ a b c d "Ethiopian soldiers blamed for mosque massacre in Somalia". Garowe Online. 21 April 2008.
  3. ^ a b c Barise, Hassan (21 April 2008). "Xaaladda magaalada Muqdisho" [The situation in Mogadishu]. BBC Somali.
  4. ^ "Somalia: Situation Report No. 16 - 25 Apr 2008". ReliefWeb. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 2008-04-25. Retrieved 2024-04-23.
  5. ^ a b "Clerics killed in Somali mosque". BBC News. 21 April 2008. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
  6. ^ a b "Ciidamada Itoobiyaanka Oo Xasuuq Fool-Xun Ka Geystay Masaajid Xarun u Ah Tabliiqiyiinta Muqdisho" [The Ethiopian army committed an ugly massacre at a mosque that is a center for the Tabliqhi in Mogadishu]. Haatuf News (in Somali). 22 April 2008. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  7. ^ a b "Ethiopian soldiers accused of Somali massacre". Hiiraan Online. Reuters. 23 April 2008. Retrieved 2024-04-20.
  8. ^ a b Adow, Mohamed Amiin (21 April 2008). "Somalia clashes 'the worst since 1991'". CNN. Retrieved 2024-04-20.
  9. ^ a b c Meehan, Emily (2008-08-22). "The Transitional Government". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 2024-04-21.
  10. ^ a b "UN humanitarian chief calls for protection of civilians". The New Humanitarian. 24 April 2008. Retrieved 2024-04-20.
  11. ^ Omar, Yusuf Garaad (25 April 2008). "Dagaalkii ka dhacay magaalada Muqdisho" [The war that took place in the city of Mogadishu]. BBC Somali Service.
  12. ^ "Somali children freed from mosque". BBC News. 2008-04-25. Retrieved 2024-04-20.
  13. ^ "Ethiopia oo beenisay eedeeynta Amnesty" [Ethiopia denied Amnesty's allegations]. BBCSomali (in Somali). 23 April 2008. Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  14. ^ Jiisow, Muuse Maxamuud (24 April 2008). "Xasuuqii Ciidamada Ethiopianku u geysteen culumadii tabliiqa iyo hadalladii laga yiri" [Massacre of the Tablighi scholars by the Ethiopian army and the statements made about it]. SomlaliTalk (in Somali). Retrieved 2024-04-24.
  15. ^ "Sheikh Maxamud Ibraahim Suuley oo ku dhaartay in ay u aargudi doonaan Xasuuqii loo gaystay Shacabka iyo Culimadii tabliiqa ahayd" [Sheikh Mahmoud Ibrahim Suley swore that they will avenge the massacre of the people and the religious scholars]. SomaliSwiss (in Somali). 21 April 2008. Retrieved 2024-04-24.