An alarming atrocity

Updated: 2013-09-25 07:58

(China Daily)

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When news came from Kenya on Tuesday that all the hostages seized by terrorists in a shopping mall in Nairobi were rescued, global concerns about the fate of those innocent lives were relieved.

However, many questions remain to be answered, and what has been revealed so far about the atrocity that left at least 62 dead, including one Chinese national, and more than 170 injured, is both alarming and worrying. The attack was well-planned and well-organized, and the terrorists were heavily armed and cold-blooded. Kenyan government sources have also said the terrorists were of various nationalities, including two or three Americans and a British woman.

The international community has united to condemn the atrocity in the strongest terms, and the Kenyan government has the whole world behind it as it sets out to round up the perpetrators, who are believed to be members of al-Shabab, a Somali-based extremist group.

That al-Shabab and other terrorist groups affiliated to al-Qaida in the Middle East and North Africa are becoming more blatant and showing a strong operational ability to commit transnational attacks with a large number of casualties is a bitter truth the world has to swallow.

In recent years, these groups have taken advantage of the instability in countries such as Libya and Syria to recruit members and expand their influence. Al-Qaida groups in Iraq have claimed responsibility for most of the country's large-scale violence and bloodshed this year, and al-Qaida militants are also exacerbating the violence in Syria.

The magnitude of the attack has also triggered controversy over the Obama administration's claim that al-Qaida has been substantially weakened thanks to the war waged by the United States against global terrorism after the terrorist attacks on the US on Sept 11, 2001.

The violent assault on shoppers and workers in the Nairobi shopping mall is a cruel reminder that there is still a long way to go before the world is rid of the scourge of terrorism.

While security in the Western world has been enhanced, loopholes keep emerging elsewhere. Some places in Africa and west Asia have become strongholds for al-Qaida and other extremist organizations.

Before the security in countries that are vulnerable to terrorist and extremist attacks is significantly strengthened, it is too early to debilitate anti-terror endeavors.

(China Daily 09/25/2013 page8)