Capital FM (Kenya)
NAIROBI, Sep 22 – At least 43 people have been killed and more than 200 others wounded in an attack by Somali Islamist militants on a Nairobi shopping mall, the Kenyan Red Cross said on Sunday.
“So far 43 have been confirmed dead and over 200 wounded,” Red Cross chief Abbas Gullet said.
Nairobi attack: Hostages remain inside shopping centre
Eyewitnesses saw armed men in black, their heads covered in scarves, entering the Westgate shopping centre on Saturday afternoon
An unknown number of hostages are being held in a shopping centre in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, after a deadly assault by suspected al-Shabab militants.
At least 39 people died and more than 150 were injured when members of the Somali Islamist group stormed the Westgate centre on Saturday.
There is now a heavy military presence in and around the centre, and intermittent gunfire can be heard.
There are reports that the gunmen are now holed up in a supermarket.
At the scene
Anne Soy BBC News
There is increasing activity here. We’ve heard gunfire ring out about twice in the past hour, and we’ve seen many ambulances coming in and out.
At the moment police say the situation is under control, they say know where the gunmen are, and they have them contained.
They’ve also asked the public to volunteer information about people still in the building. You get the feeling the police don’t know how many are in there.
This is an upmarket shopping mall – it’s one of the more exclusive ones in Nariobi. It often attracts foreigners and wealthy Kenyans, many of them of Indian descent. This is a situation which is cutting across race, tribes and nationalities.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta earlier vowed to “hunt down the perpetrators wherever they run to”.
Al-Shabab told the BBC it carried out the attack on the upmarket shopping centre in response to Kenyan military operations in Somalia.
There are about 4,000 Kenyan troops in the south of Somalia, where they have been fighting the militants since 2011.
‘Watching and monitoring’
Kenyan officials said “major operations” were under way with police and soldiers preparing an apparent bid to bring an end to the stand-off.
They said the security forces had finally “pinned down” the surviving gunmen.
“The work is continuing, but you cannot rush these things,” an army officer posted on the perimeter cordon set up around the mall told the AFP news agency.
“Our teams are there, we are watching and monitoring, we will finish this as soon as we can.”
Al-Shabab has claimed there are at least 36 hostages, but this cannot be independently confirmed and there are also likely to be people hiding away from the attackers.
The authorities have asked journalists to exercise caution when reporting military developments because the gunmen might be monitoring the media.
“Hostiles suspected to have access to the internet,” the Disaster Operation Centre in Nairobi posted on Twitter.
“Reports on personnel movement and progress will not be posted for fear of compromising strategy.”
“The gunmen have been contained in one location, but there are hostages elsewhere in the vicinity who cannot access the exit”.
President Uhuru Kenyatta: “We shall hunt down the perpetrators”
Upper levels of the mall had been secured, it said.
The authorities are also appealing for Kenyans to donate blood for the injured – and big queues are forming at a donation centre in central Nairobi. read more
The Standard (Kenya)
Ethiopia and Kenya help dismember Somalia
A new deal has recognised Jubaland, a strip of land in southern Somalia and bordering on Kenya and Ethiopia, as yet another quasi-independent entity in the region.
By Martin Plaut Published 03 September 2013 10:42
Ahmed Mohamed Islam during a meeting in Kismaayo earlier this year. Photo: Getty
After nine days of late night meetings and plenty of arm-twisting, the fragile government of Somalia was finally forced to accept that a further slice of its territory had slipped beyond its control. The deal, signed in Addis Ababa, recognised Jubaland as yet another quasi-independent entity. This strip of land in southern Somalia and bordering on Kenya and Ethiopia, it is the illegitimate heir of both of these countries.
Jubaland is of critical importance to the whole of southern Somalia. Trade through the port and airport of Kismaayo is a lifeline for the region. In theory Jubaland will be the ‘Interim Juba Administration’ and last for just two years, while Somalia re-forms itself into a Federation. In reality it is now outside Mogadishu’s control – just like those other fragments of Somalia, including Puntland, Galmadug and the self-declared independent state of Somaliland.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who was only sworn in as Somali president a year ago, was unable to resist the intense pressure of his neighbours and agreed to the deal. The entire sorry saga was witnessed by Nicholas Kay, the UN’s Special Representative in Somalia; welcomed by Catherine Ashton for the European Union and supported by the African Union. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the South African chair of African Union described the agreement as “historic”, declaring that it was “a further illustration of the capacity of the Somalis to triumph over their differences.”
It is hard to see what there was to welcome.
The deal officially recognises Ahmed Mohamed Islam (known, like all Somalis by a nickname – ‘Madobe’) as the ‘leader’ of Jubaland. Yet only a month earlier Sheikh Madobe was described in a major UN report as a “spoiler” and one of the chief threats to Somali stability.
The Sheikh was said to be “subverting the efforts of the Federal Government leadership and its partners to extend the reach of Government authority and stabilise the country, particularly in Kismaayo.”
What the Baroness Ashton and her colleagues have done is anoint a man who has been roundly denounced by the Monitoring Group, established by the UN Security Council. Its July report pointed out that the Sheikh had been a member of the short-lived Union of Islamic Courts, which was ousted by Ethiopia during its 2006 invasion of Somalia. What happened next is interesting. As the report puts it: “Madobe’s forces returned to Kismayo in August 2008, when Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam recaptured the city following the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia.” At this time the Sheikh Madobe was a key player in the al-Qaeda linked network. But, as is ever the case in Somalia, clan and inter-clan rivalry came into play and the Sheikh fell out with his former allies. He threw in his lot with the African peacekeepers and the Federal Government. But Sheikh Madobe did not cut his ties with al-Sabaab altogether and the UN report accuses him of continuing the export of charcoal from territory controlled by the Islamists – a trade long since outlawed by the UN because of its catastrophic impact on the Somali environment.
Under the new arrangement the Sheikh retains the port and the airport, although he is required to hand control to the Federal Government within six months. Since this would cut his income and hence his power, there seems little chance of the handover ever taking place.
The outcome has been a triumph for Somalia’s neighbours, even though Kenya and Ethiopia will continue to vie for influence in this critical part of the country.
The Kenyan foreign ministry has long seen the establishment of a buffer state along its northern border as vital to its security interests. Thanks to Wikileaks, we know that Kenya’s Foreign Minister, Moses Wetangula, practically begged the United States for its support when he saw Johnnie Carsons, President Obama’s most senior US Africa official, in January 2010. The Kenyans were requesting backing for an invasion of Somalia to create Jubaland, but the Americans were far from keen.
As the confidential embassy telex puts it: “Carson tactfully, but categorically refused the Kenyan delegation’s attempts to enlist US Government support for their effort.” It was, said the telex, the third time Wetangula had made the appeal, but Carsons resisted, pointing out – rightly – that “the initiative could backfire.” Critically, Carsons warned that: “if successful, a Lower Juba entity could emerge as a rival to the TFG” (Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government). This is exactly what has now come about.
Brushing these concerns aside, Kenya sent its troops into Somalia in October 2011. As predicted, they found it very heavy going and it was to take almost a year before al-Shabaab were driven from Kismaayo.
For the Ethiopians, the establishment of Jubaland is a further fragmentation of Somalia, its sworn enemy since the Somalis invaded their country in 1977. It was an attack that is imprinted on Ethiopian memories, fuelling a determination to see the end of a powerful, centralised Somali state.
As if the situation was not complicated enough, newly created Jubaland could be sitting on reserves of oil. Several fields have been detected in the waters along the Kenya-Somali border, but, like many African frontiers, the location of the border is a matter of dispute. The Somali government refuses to recognise oil licenses granted to multinational companies by Kenya, and has persuaded several oil-majors, including Total and the Norwegian state owned Statoil, to withdraw their claims. But, said the UN in July, the Italian firm, ENI, was still pressing ahead with its claims.
As Jonnie Carsons remarked in 2010, Jubaland “raises more questions than it answers.” Standard