Tag Archives: Somalia

Somalia – US offers rewards in hunt for Al Shabab leaders


Al-Shabab fighters display weapons as they conduct military exercises in northern Mogadishu, SomaliaAP Al-Shabab were behind an attack on a shopping mall and a university in Kenya

The US government is offering $27m (£18m) in rewards for information on the whereabouts of six leaders of the Somalia-based al-Shabab group.

The highest reward is $6m for the group’s leader Abu Ubaidah.

He replaced Ahmed Abdi Godane, who was killed in a US drone strike last year.

Among those being hunted is Mahad Karate, also known as Abdirahman Mohamed Warsame, believed to be a key player in the attack on a Kenyan university which killed 148 people.

The group, part of al-Qaeda, is battling the UN-backed government in Somalia and has also carried out a string of attacks in neighbouring Kenya.

On Wednesday, Kenyan security forces destroyed five suspected al-Shabab hideouts in the Bono forest close to the Somali border, according to Reuters news agency.

The rewards

  • $6m for Abu Ubaidah also known as Direye, named al-Shabab leader in September 2014
  • $5m for Mahad Karate, also known as Abdirahman Mohamed Warsame, accused of playing key role in Garissa University College attack
  • $5m for Ma’alim Daud who the US thinks is responsible for al-Shabab’s recruitment and training
  • $5m for Hassan Afgooye who is believed to oversee the financing of al-Shabab
  • $3m for Maalim Salman who the US says he has been involved in operations in Africa targeting tourists
  • $3m for Ahmed Iman Ali who the US believes to have recruited Kenyans

Source: US Department of State

Somalia – 15 killed in Mogadishu hotel bomb


Al-Shabab Islamist militants have attacked a hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, killing at least 15 people.

Gunmen used two car bombs to blast their way into the Sahafi hotel compound before storming the building, police said.

Victims included at least one MP and the general who led the 2011 offensive that drove al-Shabab out of Mogadishu.

African Union troops and government forces say they have regained control of the hotel after a fierce gun battle.

The hotel is popular with Somalia’s members of parliament.

A website associated with al-Shabab said it was responsible for the attack, which it said was carried out early in the morning to avoid civilian casualties.

This is a clear change in strategy, says BBC World Service Africa editor Mary Harper. Until now, attacks in Mogadishu have been carried out during the day and evening, killing civilians who happen to be in the targeted area.

The owner of the hotel and Gen Abdikarim Dhagabadan, who commanded the operation against al-Shabab in 2011, were among the victims.

The attack comes a day after deadly clashes between jihadist fighters and African Union (AU) troops in the Bakool region near the border with Ethiopia.

The AU is helping the government battle al-Shabab.

Security in Somalia has improved, but the al-Qaeda linked group still attacks Mogadishu regularly.

The militants have also targeted neighbouring countries, killing almost 150 people in an assault on Garissa University College in Kenya in April.

A vehicle burns after a car bomb exploded in front of the Sahafi Hotel in MogadishuEPA
Gunmen used a vehicle packed with explosives to blast their way into the hotel
A stock photo of al-Shabab recruits in Mogadishu, SomaliaAFP
The al-Shabab militant group has carried out regular attacks in Somalia

Kenya – Kenyatta calls for international effort to stabilise Somalia and S Sudan

Star (Nairobi)

President Uhuru Kenyatta on has called on the international community to support regional efforts in stabilising Somalia, South Sudan and other African countries.

Uhuru made the call when he gave a speech at the 70th United Nations General Assembly annual debate in New York on Monday evening.

President Kenyatta’s speech went big on Kenya’s determination to continue playing its role in fostering stability in the region as well as enhancing its international responsibility in improving global cooperation for the improvement of humanity.

The President rallied world leaders to take more concrete steps to support the restoration of stability in Somalia and South Sudan as well as other countries affected by instability.


– See more at: http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/video-uhuru-calls-global-participation-stabilising-somalia-s-sudan#sthash.sgmyBYES.dpuf

Somalia – are AMISOM troops sitting ducks

The East African

Too many Al Shabaab attacks too often leave countries worried over likely lapses

Amisom forces in Janaale. The attack showed a relaxation the vigilance and operational efficiency with which the AU force has conducted past operations that have led to victories against Al Shabaab. AFP PHOTO | AU UN IST | TOBIN JONES 



  • Feared operational flaws explain why Al Shabaab has the motivation to strike with impact, and this has government officials in Kampala speaking at cross-purposes on the magnitude of the loss from this attack.
  • Al Shabaab was only defeated in the urban centres, and driven into the countryside where it remains a big threat after changing tack from conventional to guerrilla warfare, operating clandestinely and hence being capable of inflicting harm using asymmetrical tactics, says security expert and legislator Simon Mulongo.
  • Al Shabaab is a weakened force, but sources say that the terrorist group has technical competence and training in the use of information technology to monitor Amisom bases, troop strength and deployment, enabling them to keep mounting attacks against the peacekeepers.

Even as the exact number of casualties suffered in the latest attack by Somali terrorist group Al Shabaab on Ugandan peacekeepers remains unclear, troop-contributing countries are alarmed at the frequency of deadly attacks on the forces of the African Union Mission in Somalia.

On September 1, Al Shabaab attacked a base at Janaale, 90km southwest of Mogadishu manned by Uganda People’s Defence Forces, using a car loaded with explosives. This was the second attack in a month on Ugandan troops, and the third in five weeks on Amisom forces.

The rate at which the attacks are happening and their impact prompted UPDF Chief of Defence Forces Gen Edward Katumba Wamala to fly to the Horn of Africa country to assess if operational lapses contributed to the raid, which upon confirmation of casualty numbers could have the same impact as the one on the Burundian base in late June.

There was another bomb attack on July 31 on an Amisom convoy in an area manned by Ugandan troops, that saw the soldiers comb the Rusiya neighbourhood in Merka city, Lower Shabelle, and kill six civilians at a wedding. Al Shabaab said the attack on the Janaale base was in retaliation for the July 31 incident.

“My visit was prompted by what happened here in Janaale, where our base was attacked by Al Shabaab using a vehicle bomb IED [improvised explosive device] to breach the defence and where we incurred some casualties. Some of our friends lost their lives,” Gen Katumba Wamala said. “I came to assess the situation and get a clear picture of how the whole thing happened and establish whether there were any flaws in terms of response.”

The feared operational flaws explain why Al Shabaab has the motivation to strike with impact, and this has government officials in Kampala speaking at cross-purposes on the magnitude of the loss from this attack.

While presenting a statement to parliament on September 3, State Minister for Defence Jeje Odongo said UPDF lost 10 soldiers, whose bodies were flown into Uganda the same day.

But army spokesman Lt-Col Paddy Ankunda had earlier dismissed as propaganda reports that Al Shabaab had inflicted as many as 50 casualties in the attack. Lt-Col Ankunda gave a figure of 12 dead, 10 of whom would be flown into the country and the remaining two be brought in later.

All this runs counter to earlier reports by Western military sources in a brief to diplomats that 50 soldiers were killed and a similar number remained unaccounted for, reinforcing Al Shabaab’s own claims that “scores” of Ugandan troops had been killed in the attack.

A security source however told The EastAfrican that the government had the number of casualties confirmed by independent sources as 19.

But, as different figures are being quoted, the precision of these attacks by Al Shabaab should be a concern for countries that have troops in Amisom, security expert and legislator Simon Mulongo argues.

“Al Shabaab has never been destroyed. It was only defeated in the urban centres, and driven into the countryside where it remains a big threat after changing tack from conventional to guerrilla warfare, operating clandestinely and hence being capable of inflicting harm using asymmetrical tactics,” said Mr Mulongo, who is also a former Director of East African Standby Forces.

Since 2007 when the over 22,000-strong Amisom force was deployed in Somalia, its different contingents have battled Al Shabaab, forcing the terrorist group out of the capital and other strategic towns like Kismayu and Baidoa. But Al Shabaab still has suicide bombers willing to use explosives to fight back, using the element of surprise on sentries at different posts.

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


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


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.