Tag Archives: Somalia

US appoints ambassador to Somalia since botched intervention


U.S. nominates first ambassador to Somalia since ill-fated intervention

Wed, Feb 25 2015

NAIROBI (Reuters) – President Barack Obama has nominated the first U.S. ambassador to Somalia since the early 1990s, when the United States pulled its diplomatic staff out of the country following an ill-fated intervention exemplified by the “Black Hawk Down” disaster.

The U.S. State Department said the nomination of career diplomat Katherine Dhanani signals the deepening relationship between the two countries.

Somalia is attempting to rebuild after two decades of civil war and lawlessness triggered by the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991. The fragile government is being backed by international aid aimed at preventing it from becoming a haven for al Qaeda-style militants in East Africa.

The United States intervened in Somalia in 1992, initially on a humanitarian mission, but became embroiled in a conflict against war lords.

In the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993, 18 U.S. soldiers were killed and two helicopters shot down in fighting against Somali militias. Hundreds of Somalis also died in the battle, which was depicted in the film “Black Hawk Down”.

U.S. troops pulled out in 1994, ending the mission.

At the time, the battle marked the U.S Army’s heaviest losses in a single day since the Vietnam War and it has remained central to the American view of the Horn of Africa state.

In recent years, persistent attacks in the capital have complicated the government’s efforts to secure the nation for a referendum on a new federal constitution and a presidential election in 2016.

“Somalia has considerable work ahead to complete its transition to a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous nation,” the statement said. “The United States is committed to supporting Somalia on this journey as a steadfast partner.”

The U.S. Mission to Somalia is currently based in Nairobi, Kenya. The State Department said Washington hoped to increase its diplomatic presence in Somalia as security improves.

Al Shabaab, the al Qaeda-affiliated militants, were pushed out of Mogadishu by African peacekeeping forces in 2011 but has waged a series of gun and grenade attacks to try to overthrow the government and impose its strict version of sharia law.

The United States has launched a series of strikes against al Shabaab leaders in recent months, killing its leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, in September, and Tahliil Abdishakur, chief of al Shabaab’s intelligence and security wing, in late December.

Somalia – 20 killed in bomb attack on Mogadishu hotel


Some 20 people, including senior officials, have been killed in an attack on a hotel in the Somali capital, witnesses have told the BBC.

The Central Hotel, often frequented by politicians, was hit by a car bomb and a suicide attack. Gunmen then stormed the hotel mosque and opened fire during Friday prayers.

An MP and Mogadishu’s deputy mayor were among the dead, the government says.

Islamist militant group al-Shabab has said it was behind the attack.

The al-Qaeda linked group has been driven out of the country’s major towns but still controls many rural areas in the south.

The BBC’s Mohamed Moalimu in the city says the area around the hotel has been cordoned off.

Somali security officers walk in front of the wreckage of a car in front of the Central Hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia, 20 February 2015.This car was destroyed in the explosion

“First the car bomb exploded at the gate of the hotel, then a suicide bomber blew himself up in the hotel compound,” police Major Nur Mohamed told Reuters.

Information Minister Mohamed Abdi Hayir Mareeye told the BBC that Somalia’s deputy prime minister and other ministers had been at the hotel at the time but had survived the attack.

An al-Shabab spokesman told BBC Somali analyst Mary Harper it had killed the officials while they were praying because they were “apostates”.

It has previously said it would target members of the government.

Earlier this month, al-Shabab shot dead an MP in a drive-by shooting in Mogadishu.

Somali security agents are seen outside the Central Hotel after a suicide attack in Somalia"s capital Mogadishu February 20, 2015The Central Hotel is often frequented by government officials
Rescuers carry a survivor from the scene of a blast at the Central Hotel after a suicide attack in Somalia"s capital Mogadishu February 20, 2015.The gunmen opened fire in the hotel mosque
A file photo taken on 17 February, 2011 shows Islamist fighters loyal to Somalia's Al-Qaeda inspired al-Shabab group Al-Shabab had said it would target government officials

Somalia – Al Shabab intelligence chief said to have been killed in drone strike

A leader of the al-Shabab Islamist group was killed by a US air strike on Monday, Somali officials say.

The intelligence chief, named as Abdishakur, was part of a unit responsible for suicide attacks, security officials said.

US defence chiefs did not confirm whether the al-Shabab leader had died.

Washington has supported an African Union (AU) force which has driven the fundamentalist group from strongholds across the country since 2011.

On Monday the US said it had targeted a “senior leader” of al-Shabab in the area of Saakow, about 320km (200 miles) west of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

In a statement, the defence department said it was “assessing the results of the operation”.

But Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency said on Tuesday that the air strike had killed a militant it identified as Abdishakur, also known as Tahliil.

It said he had just replaced al-Shabab’s former intelligence chief, who was arrested a few days ago.

The agency added that two other al-Shabab members had also died in the joint US-Somali operation.

The development came three days after another top al-Shabab militant, Zakariya Ahmed Ismail Hersi, gave himself up to the Somali government.

Mr Hersi, a leading figure in the militant group’s intelligence wing, surrendered to police in the Gedo region.

In June 2012, the US state department offered $3m (£1.9m; 2.5m euros) for information leading to his capture.



Somalia – US air strikes targeting al Shabab leader

The US says it has conducted an air strike against the Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab in Somalia.

Its target was a “senior leader” in the area of Saakow, according to a statement by the US defence department.

“At this time, we do not assess there to be any civilian or bystander casualties,” it said.

The US has supported the African Union (AU) force that has driven al-Shabab out of the capital Mogadishu and other towns since 2011.

In September, al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane was killed in a US air strike.

The US did not identify the leader targeted in the latest strike or say whether the strike was successful.

The statement continued: “We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information, when appropriate, as details become available.”

The air strike came two days after top al-Shabab militant, Zakariya Ahmed Ismail Hersi, gave himself up.

Mr Hersi, a leading figure in the militant group’s intelligence wing, surrendered to police in the Gedo region.

In June 2012, the US state department offered $3m (£1.9m; 2.5m euros) for information leading to his capture.

Somali army has been fighting al Shabab



Somalia: UN ‘outraged’ by deadly terrorist car bomb attack in Mogadishu


UN News Service

Somalia: UN ‘outraged’ by deadly terrorist car bomb attack in Mogadishu

A street scene in Mogadishu, the Somali capital. Photo: AU-UN IST/Stuart Price

 The United Nations Security Council and Secretary-General expressed outrage today over an Al-Shabaab terrorist attack in Mogadishu this morning that damaged a convoy of UN vehicles and killed and injured several Somali bystanders and security personnel.

“There can be no justification for terrorism or such attacks,” the UN chief said in a statement issued by his spokesman. The Secretary-General also reaffirmed the UN’s strong commitment to working with the people and Government of Somalia to help rebuild peace and prosperity for all Somalis.

In a statement to the press issued later in the day, the members of the Security Council strongly condemned the attack, reaffirming that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivation, wherever and whenever and by whomsoever committed.

The Council also reiterated its determination to combat all forms of terrorism, underlining the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of such reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice. Underlining their support and gratitude to all UN staff in Somalia, they also reiterated that this or any other attack by Al Shabaab would not dent their resolve to support the people of Somalia

According to the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), no staff were injured in the attack, which took place at approximately 9:40 am, and investigations into the bombing continue, with no group as yet claiming responsibility.

In other news from Somalia, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, welcomed the inauguration of Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan as the head of the newly formed Interim South West Administration.

Somalia – major bomb attack at Mogadishu airport


Somalia bomb: Several killed near airport

mogadishu blast 3 december 2014The airport has been targeted by al-Shabab bomb attacks in the past

Several people have been killed in a suicide car bomb blast next to a UN convoy in Somalia, police say.

The bomber drove between the convoy and its security escort near the airport in the capital, Mogadishu, police said.

The United Nations and the British and Italian embassy compounds are based in the nearby area.

No group has claimed responsibility but the al-Shabab militant group, linked to al-Qaeda, has often carried out bomb attacks.

“The explosion was very big and there is smoke all around the area. I can hardly see people lying on the ground, either dead or wounded,” witness Shamso Idle told AFP news agency.

The blast comes a day after al-Shabab militants killed 36 non-Muslim quarry workers in Kenya near the northern town of Mandera.

The blamed the involvement of Kenyan forces in Somalia “and their ongoing atrocities therein, such as the recent air strikes on Muslims”.

Somalia – Al Shabab weakened but not defeated


Somalia: Victories Over Al Shabab Are Not Bringing Peace

Photo: Phil Moore/IRIN

AMISON convoy

African Union and Somali soldiers are continuing to drive back the Islamist militia al-Shabab. Nevertheless, a durable peace is still not in sight in this country torn apart by decades of civil war.

The forces of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) are reporting one success after the other. On Wednesday (08.10.2014) the commanders announced that Kenyan and Somali government soldiers had “liberated” the southern Somali city of Bula-Gaduud. Only four days earlier, they had taken the port city of Barawe, thereby depriving the Islamist militia al-Shabab of its last base on the coast.

Al-Shabab militants, who only two years ago controlled a broad swathe of Somalia, have been retreating from more than 20,000 advancing AMISOM troops as well as Somali government soldiers, whom the German army is helping to train. In early September a US drone killed al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane.

Al-Shabab’s supply line cut off

The recent setbacks may have dealt the militia a decisive blow, the Somali journalist and analyst Mohamed Omar told DW. Although al-Shabab still had other places of refuge in the interior of the country, the loss of Barawe deprived the militants of their most important source of revenue, Omar explained.

The city was a commercial hub which brought the Islamists considerable tax revenue. The export of locally produced charcoal via Barawe’s small port was deemed to be an especially lucrative source of income. Moreover, al-Shabab used the port to obtain arms, ammunition and food.

Situation improves for civilian population

According to Omar, the civilian population welcomes the soldiers’ advance, because the Islamist militia imposed a very strict and therefore unpopular religious regime on the areas under its control.

For the population, the situation had improved noticeably, the German-Somali political scientist and author Abdirizak Sheikh confirmed. This was particularly true for the capital, Mogadishu.

“But the security situation remains precarious,” he warned. The military victories against al-Shabab, Sheikh said, glossed over the fact that the violence in Somalia was not simply going to disappear along with the Islamist organization.

This was because al-Shabab did not consist of foreign jihadists, but of members of various domestic clans. These clans, which included some very powerful families, make up the basic structure of Somali society.

Even if al-Shabab was to fall apart as an organization, the clans would by no means lay down their arms, Sheikh stressed. Instead, they would continue to use force to fight for their particular interests. “As long as the large clans are not disarmed, there will be no peace in Somalia,” he said.

Sheikh criticized that neither the Somali army nor foreign troops were currently disarming people. “These clans with their militias are even represented in the government and in parliament,” Sheikh said.

Al-Shabab has been weakened, but not defeated

Therefore, the government was often not acting in the interest of all Somalis but in that of the large clans.

As evidence of the influence exerted by the heads of these clans, some of whom are allied to al-Shabab, Sheikh cites the case of Hassan Dahir Aweys. The former spiritual leader of al-Shabab was arrested over a year ago. But to this day, he is staying at a hotel in Mogadishu. His influential family is preventing him from being put on trial.

Without meaning to, Western supporters of Somali security forces were even arming various militias in the country, Sheikh said. The government was paying its soldiers very little, and irregularly, too. So many of the soldiers trained by the European training mission, EUTM, defected straight to their respective clan’s militia – and some to al-Shabab – taking all their freshly acquired skills with them.