Tag Archives: Somalia

Somalia – Al Shabab inflict substantial casualties in attack on AMISOM base

BBC

Al-Shabab fighters in somalia
Image captionAl-Shabab has lost most of its key strongholds in south and central Somalia

Fighters from the al-Shabab militant Islamist group have overrun an African Union military base in southern Somalia, inflicting heavy casualties, witnesses have told the BBC.

The militants said they have killed 70 AU soldiers at the Janale base, 90km (55 miles) south-east of the capital.

AU forces say they are back in control after taking a “tactical withdrawal”.

Al-Shabab, part of al-Qaeda, is battling the AU-backed government for control of Somalia.

Residents said the attack started with a suicide car bombing at the base’s gate, followed by sustained gunfire which lasted more than an hour.

They told the BBC Somali service that AU forces were seen leaving the base, which is run by the Ugandan troops.

They said they counted the bodies of 20 AU soldiers and later they saw more troops arriving at the base after the militants had left with weapons.

The AU mission in Somalia (Amisom) says the situation is complex and it does not yet have casualty figures.

The BBC’s Mohamed Mualimu in the capital, Mogadishu, says the situation in the area is very tense and few residents remain there.

map showing who controls which parts of Somalia

The militants had earlier damaged a nearby bridge with a massive bomb to prevent troops from escaping, Col Ahmed Hassan from the Somali army told the Associated Press.

This is being seen as an attempt by the militants to isolate AU bases in the area, our reporter says.

In June, the group overran another African Union base in Lego, a small town in the Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia, killing dozens of soldiers and seizing military equipments.

Despite losing most of its key strongholds in south and central Somalia, al-Shabab continues to carry out attacks on the government and African Union troops across the country.

The militants also stage frequent suicide attacks inside the capital, Mogadishu.

Somalia – Al Shabab storms African Union base

Mail and Guardian

Militants from Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabab group rammed a suicide car bomb into an African Union army base and stormed inside.

Al shabab militants. (AP)

There were no immediate reports on casualties, and the rebels said in a statement that the African Union Mission for Somalia (Amisom) troops had fled the base, situated in Janale district, 80 kilometres southwest of Mogadishu in the lower Shabele region in Somalia.

The base is thought to be manned by Burundian soldiers.

“There was heavy explosion and fighting broke out at the Amisom base in Janale. We don’t have details but we are hearing that Al-Shebab militants attacked the base,” said Mohamed Shire, a Somali military commander based in the region.

A local eyewitness said Shabab fighters stormed into the base.

“Heavy fighting broke out after a suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into the camp,” said local resident Ali Moalim Yusuf. “I saw heavily armed fighters chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ [‘God is greatest’] pouring into the base.”

The militants, who are fighting to overthrow Somalia’s internationally-backed and AU-protected government, confirmed they were behind the attack.

“Mujaheddin fighters captured the base after a suicide bomber struck it, the enemy fled,” the Islamists said in a brief statement.

In June, Shebab fighters killed dozens of Burundian soldiers when they overran an Amisom outpost northwest of the capital. The militants also stage frequent suicide attacks inside the capital.

But AMISOM, the 22 000-strong AU force in Somalia, has also made key gains against the Shebab in recent months, pushing them out of several strongholds in the southwest of the country. – AFP

Somalia – Al Shabab attacks in south

Reuters

Islamist al Shabaab militants killed at least seven people including a regional official and local police commander in an attack on a government convoy in southern Somalia on Wednesday, officials and the group said.

Al Shabaab attacked the convoy between Garbaharey and Baladhawo towns in the Gedo region, near the Kenyan border.

The al Qaeda-allied group frequently launches attacks on officials in its bid to topple the Western-backed government and impose its strict interpretation of Islam on the nation, which is struggling to rebuild after two decades of war.

The group now controls increasingly smaller patches of territory since an African Union force and Somali troops drove it out of major strongholds in an offensive launched last year.

“We ambushed them but it turned into a fierce battle later,” al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, told Reuters. He said 18 people were killed.

Senior Somali police officer Elmi Nur said three militants and seven others, including a deputy district commissioner and a regional police commander, were killed.

“We have been launching operations to eliminate al Shabaab from the region. More police and military were sent after the ambush to chase the fighters hiding in the forested areas,” he said.

Al Shabaab often cites higher numbers for those killed than official figures.

Somalia – bombers hit Mogadishu hotel

BBC

Mogadishu blast

At least 10 people have been killed in a huge bomb explosion at a hotel in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

A BBC correspondent in the city reports that a lorry was used to attack the Jazeera hotel near the city’s airport.

Ambulances have begun collecting the dead and wounded in what he describes as one of the worst scenes of destruction he has seen in Mogadishu.

Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack on the hotel.

It said it was responding to assaults on the group by an African Union force and the Somali government.

International diplomats often stay at the hotel, which has been targeted in the past. It accommodates several embassies including those of China, Qatar and Egypt.

“A suicide car bomb exploded at the gate of Jazeera Hotel,” Major Nur Osoble, a police officer, told Reuters news agency.

A government security officer was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying that hotel security guards were among the dead.

Somalia – two senior Al-Shabab commanders killed by drones

BBC

Al-Shabab fighters in Somalia in 2011
Al-Shabab is battling Somalia’s UN-backed government for control of the country

At least two senior commanders from the Islamist militant group al-Shabab have been killed in a drone strike in south-west Somalia, residents say.

Several loud blasts were heard in the town of Bardere at dawn and the bodies were found later, they said.

A Kenyan official has withdrawn his statement that one of those killed was the mastermind of April’s deadly attack on Garissa university.

Bardere is one of the few Somali towns still controlled by al-Shabab.

The al-Qaeda-linked group has not yet commented, but a source in the group told a BBC reporter that those killed were al-Shabab commanders.

Al-Shabab carried out the attack on Kenya’s Garissa university which killed 148 people.

Kenyan Interior ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka has tweeted that he was mistaken when saying a “mastermind” of that attack was among four al-Shabab commanders killed.

He said he had mixed up the mastermind, known as Gamadheere, with the al-Shabab commander, named Jamaa Adhere.

African Union and Somali government troops are reported to be advancing on the area in Gedo region.

The US has killed several senior members of al-Shabab in drone strikes in the past.

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The BBC’s Moalimu Mohamed in the capital, Mogadishu, says the telecommunications network to Bardere has been cut off since the attack, but residents in the village nearest the town have been contactable.

They said that after the blasts, well-armed al-Shabab fighters rushed to the scene in Bardere, near the Juba River about 460km (285 miles) west of Mogadishu, where the dead men were found.

The names of the commanders believed to have been killed are Ismael Jamhad and Jama Dere, a Somali military officer travelling with the African Union troops in the area has told the BBC.

Somalia has seen clan-based warlords, rival politicians and Islamist militants battle for control since the fall of long-serving ruler Siad Barre in 1991.

African Union troops have been in the country since 2007 helping various UN-backed governments fight al-Shabab.

Over the last four years, the militants have been driven from most of the key towns they once held but they still control rural areas in the south.

Somalia – Ethiopian AU forces clash with Al Shabab

Shabelle Media Network/allAfrica

Burhakaba — Heavy fighting broke out between Ethiopian forces serving under AU mission in Somalia ‘AMISOM’ and Al Shabaab militants in Jameco area 20 Km east of Burhakaba town in south of Somalia’s Bay region.

The fighting started with an IED hit a convoy of Ethiopian forces than Al Shabab militants armed with propelled grenades and machine guns launched an ambush assault on its military vehicles travelling through the town.

Al Shabab claimed to have killed at least 30 Ethiopian forces and destroyed 7 military technical convoys during the ambush raid according to pro Al Shabab website though Shabelle Media did not count that number.

Meanwhile, African Union and Somalia National army officials said that its troops had successfully repelled Al Shabab attacks, adding that militants fled from the area, AU statement reads.

AMISOM Sector Three Commander, Col Yemane Gabremichael says the militants attempted to attack the convoy on the Leego – Buur Hakaba road but were overpowered by AMISOM and Government forces.

Burhakaba, a town 150 Km northeast of Mogadishu is under control of Somalia National Army, along with African Union mission in Somalia-known as AMISOM, which battling Al Shabab militants the past 5 years.

China to open military base in Djibouti near US special forces

RFI

Historic’ Chinese military base to open in Horn of Africa

Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh: China "welcome"

Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh: China “welcome”

AFP
By Michel Arseneault

China is negotiating a military base in the strategic port of Djibouti, an historic development that would see the US and China each have bases in the small nation that guards the entrance to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. President Ismail Omar Guelleh says that discussions are “ongoing” and that Beijing is “welcome”.

Djibouti is already home to Camp Lemonnier, the military headquarters used by US Special Forces for covert, anti-terror and other operations in Yemen and in Africa. France, the former colonial master, and Japan also have bases in the port, which is used by many foreign navies to fight piracy in neighbouring Somalia.

Djibouti’s president said China, a major trading partner for both Djibouti and its landlocked neighbour Ethiopia, is welcome.

“France’s presence is old, and the Americans found that the position of Djibouti could help in the fight against terrorism in the region,” Guelleh told AFP. “The Japanese want to protect themselves from piracy, and now the Chinese also want to protect their interests, and they are welcome.”

China refused to confirm or deny on Monday that it was establishing a military base in the Horn of Africa.

“Maintenance of peace and stability in the region is in line with the interests of related countries,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters. “It’s also the common aspiration of Djibouti, China and other countries in the world.”

China signed a security and defence agreement with Djibouti in February 2014. But a Chinese military base in Djibouti, the first in Africa, “would definitely be historic”, according to David Shinn, a former US ambassador to Ethiopia.

The US was reportedly angry about the conclusion last year of the China-Djibouti defence deal last year. But Shinn predicts that the US will take it in its stride.

“They might be a little concerned about what this (expansion well beyond the western Indian Ocean) means for the future,” he said in an interview from Washington. “But as far as a base in Djibouti, particularly a modest base, is concerned, I’d be surprised if there was great unhappiness about it.”

China is reportedly considering a permanent military base in Obock, Djibouti’s northern port city.

“China clearly has a goal of building a blue-water navy, which means it will at some point go well beyond the east coast of Africa and the western Indian Ocean, and it has to think — long term — about how it would be able to service its naval vessels as they go further and further, ” he explained.

Camp Lemonnier, home to 4,000 American citizens, is in the south-east of Djibouti. The US earlier this month signed a 20-year lease, indicating its willingness to stay. Terms of the lease were not disclosed.

A new Chinese deep-sea port in Djibouti would be a new ” pearl” in China’s “string of pearls strategy”, according to analyst and writer Robert Mason, author of The International Politics of the Arab Spring.

It could provide a boost to China’s sphere of influence, which already extends from the South China Sea, along the west coast of Myanmar to the Arabian-Sea coastal port of Gwadar, Pakistan — a major destination in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

“Establishing these deep-sea ports is really about securing its economic interests, projecting influence and securing oil exports from the Gulf region,” Mason explained in a phone interview from Cairo.

“It’s perfectly rational for the Chinese to establish that type of instrastructure, not only for anti-piracy but also because it’s a key maritime route,” said Africa political military analyst Lesley Anne Warner. “I don’t want to use the word alarming, but what’s happening is a departure from China’s role in Africa, which has until now been primarily economically focussed.”

Its business interests are important in both Djibouti and neighbouring Ethiopia. Trade between Africa and China, in excess of 200 billion dollars (180 billion euros), is above the continent’s trade with the European Union or the US.

In Djibouti, China is already financing major infrastructure projects estimated to total more than 9 billion dollars (8 billion euros), including improved ports, airports and railway lines.

“Money talks, especially in small and underdeveloped states run by authoritarian governments such as Djibouti — and soon Beijing, not Washington, may have the strongest voice,” wrote Hudson Institute senior fellow John Lee in the current issue of Foreign Affairs.

There was speculation that Russia also wanted to establish a presence in Djibouti, but the presence of Russian warships may have created even more controversy in western nations because of the crisis in the Ukraine.

 

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