Tag Archives: Somalia

Somalia – US general wants more authority for US forces to act against Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda

Reuters

WASHINGTON The head of U.S. forces in Africa told reporters on Friday that greater authority to fight al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants in Somalia would lead to more flexibility and quicker targeting, but that a decision had not yet been made by the White House.

Al Shabaab has been able to carry out deadly bombings despite losing most of its territory to African Union peacekeepers supporting the Somali government.

The United States has a small presence in Somalia and is allowed to carry out strikes in defence of partnered forces.

“Regardless of what combatant commander was sitting here this afternoon, I think they would all tell you that it is very important and very helpful for us to have a little bit more flexibility, a little bit more timeliness in terms of decision-making process and … it will allow us to prosecute targets in a more rapid fashion,” Marine General Thomas Waldhauser, the top U.S. military commander overseeing troops in Africa, said at a press conference.

Critics of former President Barack Obama’s administration said that it took too long for Washington to approve strikes against militants when they surfaced, allowing some to escape.

Obama’s supporters, however, said greater scrutiny of U.S. military power helped reduce civilian casualties and the risk of “mission creep.”

Waldhauser also said there was no need to “sound the alarm” about a potential resurgence of piracy off Somalia’s coast after pirates seized a small oil tanker, the first such incident since 2012.

“It is too early to say that now we have an epidemic, but it did catch our attention,” Waldhauser said.

In their heyday in 2011, Somali pirates launched 237 attacks off the coast of Somalia, data from the International Maritime Bureau showed, and held hundreds of hostages.

Separately, Waldhauser said the United States had severely weakened the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan rebellion group, but had not been able to capture its leader Joseph Kony.

A regional task force, including U.S. troops, has been hunting the down the group.

“This thing is coming to an end to be very frank … We think that we have a plan in place for a steady state, sustainable transition that will not only look out for Kony or any other groups that would emerge in that part of the country,” Waldhauser said.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart.; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Somalia – first ship hijacking since 2012 as Sri Lankan vessel seized

BBC

 

European Union Naval Force training exercise for Operation Atalanta, which has been running in Somali since 2008 to combat piracyEuropean Union Naval Force training exercise for Operation Atalanta, which has been running in Somali since 2008 to combat piracy

A freight ship has been hijacked off the coast of Somalia, reports say.

A number of suspected pirates boarded the Sri Lankan-flagged vessel off the country’s northern coast on Monday, residents and officials say.

A spokesperson for the European Union Naval Force, which runs anti-piracy operations in the area, said it was too early to confirm pirate involvement.

If confirmed, it would be the first hijacking of a commercial ship by Somali pirates since 2012.

The EU Naval Force told the BBC: “We became aware of this yesterday evening [Monday], and a light aircraft has been sent at first light today to investigate.”

John Steed of the aid group Oceans Beyond Piracy, speaking to Reuters news agency, said, “The ship reported it was being followed by two skiffs yesterday afternoon. Then it disappeared.”

Map of Somalia

Kenyan army says it has killed 57 Al Shabaab fighters in Somalia

Daily Nation

Thursday March 2 2017
A map of Afmadow, Somalia where KDF troops

A map of Afmadow, Somalia where KDF troops killed at least 57 Al-Shabaab fighters on March 2, 2017. GRAPHIC | GOOGLE MAP 

By FRED MUKINDA

Kenyan troops killed at least 57 Al-Shabaab fighters in a battle near Afmadow in Somalia on Thursday

The 8.45 am battle took place about 31 kilometres from Afmadow, where Kenya Defence Forces have their base.

KDF Spokesman Joseph Owouth said unknown number of terrorists survived with injuries.

“KDF soldiers operating under Amisom engaged Al-Shabaab militants at a location 31 km North West of Afmadow, close to Subow centre using artillery fire and supported by helicopter gunships,” he said.

Colonel Owouth added that five pickup trucks mounted with heavy machine guns and other weapons belonging to Al-shabaab were destroyed.

“KDF soldiers remain vigilant and will continue to relentlessly pursue the terrorists to ensure peace and security of our country Kenya as well as support Amisom operations in order to stabilise Somalia,” he said.

 

Reuters

Kenya said its forces had killed 57 Islamist al Shabaab militants in a battle in southern Somalia on Wednesday, but the group denied any of its fighters had died in the clash.

Kenyan troops under the African Union command used artillery and helicopter gunships against the Islamists in Afmadow, a town about 100 km (60 miles) inland from the port of Kismayu, Kenyan military spokesman Col. Joseph Owuoth said in a statement.

“In the onslaught, 57 al Shabaab militants were killed and unknown number injured,” Owuoth said, adding that five gun-mounted pickup trucks known as “technicals” were destroyed.

Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s spokesman for military operations, said the Islamists had ambushed Kenyan soldiers, prompting them to call in air support, and that al Shabaab lost no fighters.

“The planes fired some bombs and KDF (Kenya Defence Forces) returned to their places. There is no casualty from our side and we do not have exact casualty numbers of KDF,” he said.

Somalia has been torn apart by civil war since 1991 and now a drought threatens to tip the Horn of Africa nation into famine. Last month parliamentarians elected a new president who vowed to stamp out al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab.

The insurgency wants to topple the government and impose its own strict interpretation of Islam on Somalia. It ruled most of south-central Somalia until 2011, when it was driven out of Mogadishu by African Union troops.

Despite the loss of territory, al Shabaab still carries out major gun and bomb attacks.

In January, its fighters attacked a Kenyan military base in the southern Somali town of Kulbiyow, near the Kenyan border. Kenya said nine soldiers died, while al Shabaab said it killed at least 66

In January 2016, al Shabaab said it had killed more than 100 Kenyan soldiers in El Adde, a Somali camp near the border with Kenya. The military did not release casualty figures from that attack, but media reports supported al Shabaab’s death toll.

(Reporting by George Obulutsa; additional reporting by Feisal Omar in Mogadishu; editing by Andrew Roche)

IMF to help Somalia print first new banknotes for 25 years

Shabelle Media Network

IMF to Help Somalia Print First Banknotes in 25 years

The International Monetary Fund is backing Somalia’s plans to replace tattered currency notes that were printed before the Horn of Africa nation plunged into civil war almost three decades ago.

The new Somali shilling notes may come into circulation this year, alongside the dollar that’s been the main means of payment, and will replace fake or old currency in circulation, said Samba Thiam, the IMF’s country head.

“About 98 percent of the currency circulating in the country is fake,” Thiam said in an interview Friday in Nairobi, the capital of neighboring Kenya. “The remaining 2 percent is currency printed during 1990-91, still circulating, but in very bad shape.”

Somalia’s descent into anarchy began with the ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. A subsequent Islamist insurgency has hastened the destruction of its political and economic institutions, slashing annual per capita income to $435 and making Somalia the world’s fifth-poorest country, according to the World Bank.

Printing of the new notes, which will initially be in small denominations, is aimed at restoring the Central Bank of Somalia’s powers to set monetary policy, he said. While the institution doesn’t have the money to finance the plan, donors will back the reforms and financing will be agreed on once the government decides whether it wants a floating- or fixed-rate currency regime.

Debt Cancellation

While Somalia qualifies for debt cancellation, it would have to clear arrears that are part of $5.3 billion owed to international creditors such as the IMF, World Bank and African Development Bank to secure fresh funding, Thiam said. Writing off Somalia’s loans depends on progress toward curbing corruption, introducing a new currency and an effective monetary policy in the $6 billion economy.

“There are hurdles,” Thiam said. “But there is a general willingness from creditors to write off Somalia’s debt when the time comes, it’s a good prospect. They will not be asked to repay the debt tomorrow, so they have time to work on consolidating their economic base. The debt is an issue that will be resolved some time.”

Economic growth may slow to 2.5 percent in 2017 from 3.7 percent last year, the IMF estimates. Agriculture accounts for 40 percent of national output in the country whose main export is camels to Gulf Arab countries.

The IMF is also assisting the central bank with regulation and supervision of the financial sector to open it to new investors, Thiam said. KCB Group Ltd and Commercial Bank of Africa Ltd, neighboring Kenya’s first and sixth-largest banks by assets, are among lenders that have applied to set up shop. Somalia has six banks and 12 money-transfer businesses.

Better Governance

Somalis living abroad have buoyed the economy with remittances of as much as $2.3 billion a year, Thiam said. “We pretty much think the amount that could be going unnoticed, undeclared must be much bigger.”

President Mohamed Abdullahi, elected into office this month, must make good on his word to fight graft, Thiam said. Somalia is the world’s most corrupt nation, according to Berlin-based Transparency International.

Improving governance may enable the nation to exploit potentially “quite large” oil and gas reserves, Thiam said. The government has said production could begin as early as 2020 after exploration by companies such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP Plc showed probable offshore hydrocarbon deposits. The state has held talks with those companies about reactivating dormant contracts.

Somalia – car bomb in Mogadishu market kills 39

Reuters

A Somali government soldier walks past the scene of a suicide bomb explosion at the Wadajir market in Madina district of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu February 19, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
By Feisal Omar | MOGADISHU

MOGADISHU A car bomb ripped through a market in Mogadishu on Sunday, killing 39 people and injuring around 50, a local official said, days after Somalia elected a new president.

The car was driven by a suicide bomber, said Ahmed Abdulle Afrax, the mayor of Wadajir district where the bombing happened.

“We carried 39 dead bodies and there were many others injured,” Dr Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of the Aamin Ambulance Service, told Reuters.

Madina hospital took in 47 injured people, Dr Mohamed Yusuf, the manager, said.

Witness Abdulle Omar said the market was destroyed.

“I was staying in my shop when a car came in into the market and exploded. I saw more than 20 people lying on the ground. Most of them were dead,” he said.

Al Shabaab, the Islamist insurgent group that is fighting the U.N.-backed Somali government, did not immediately claim responsibility.

Al Shabaab has been able to carry out increasingly deadly bombings despite losing most of its territory to African Union peacekeepers supporting the Somali government.

This month Somalia elected a new president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, a dual U.S.-Somali citizen and former prime minister.

Civil war has riven Somalia since 1991. Aid agencies warn that a severe drought has placed large swathes of the country at risk of famine.

(Writing by Katharine Houreld; editing by Jane Merriman/Ruth Pitchford)

Somalia – Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo chosen as president as military struggle continues

BBC

Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo follows the proceedings as lawmakers cast their ballot during the presidential vote at the airport in Somalia"s capital Mogadishu, February 8, 2017.REUTERS The new president is known as Farmajo, cheese in Italian

Somalia’s MPs have elected a Somali-US national as the country’s new president in a vote held in an aircraft hangar.

Ex-Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” Mohamed beat President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in two rounds of voting.

The vote was held at the heavily guarded airport complex in the capital, Mogadishu, as the rest of the country is not safe.

Traffic was banned and a no-fly zone imposed over the city to prevent attacks by militant Islamists.

Despite this, suspected militants fired mortar rounds close to the venue on Tuesday night.

Somalia has not had a one-person one-vote democratic election since 1969.

That vote was followed by a coup, dictatorship and conflict involving clan militias and Islamist extremists.

The aircraft hangar is crowded with MPs ready to voteAMISOM The aircraft hangar is crowded with MPs

Mr Mohamed’s election is part of a lengthy and complex process to help the East African state rebuild its democracy and achieve stability.

Thousands of Somalis quickly took to the streets to celebrate his victory and cheering soldiers from the Somali army fired into the air, the Associated Press news agency reports.

More than 20,000 African Union (AU) troops are stationed in Somalia to prevent militant Islamist group al-Shabab from overthrowing the weak government.

A total of 21 men ran for the presidency, but the number was reduced to two after two rounds of voting.

Mr Mohamed obtained 184 votes, compared with 97 for the outgoing president.

Mr Mohamud accepted defeat, avoiding a third and final vote.

“History was made, we have taken this path to democracy, and now I want to congratulate Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo,” Mr Mohamud said in his concession speech.

The new president is popularly known as “Farmajo”, Italian for cheese, because of his love for the dairy product.

Much of Somalia was a former Italian colony.

Somali election traffic ban

BBC

Traffic in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, on streets with election campaign poster - December 2016AFP Mogadishu’s streets are usually congested with vehicles

A traffic ban has been imposed and major roads sealed off in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, ahead of a presidential vote.

MPs will gather at the airport to elect a new head of state.

On Tuesday evening, suspected Al-Shabab militants launched a series of attacks, with two mortar rounds fired close to the venue where the vote will be held.

Residents in Arbacow village outside Mogadishu say jihadists attacked an African Union military base there.

More than 20 candidates are vying to become Somali president, with the top three proceeding to a second round of voting and the top two from that round going forward to a third and final vote.

Incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is standing for re-election and analysts say he is likely to be one of those who goes forward to the later rounds.

Results are expected later on Wednesday.

The airport is viewed as the most secure site in the Somali capital and voting was moved there from a police academy because of growing security concerns.

Wednesday’s security measures will include a ban on flights to and from Mogadishu airport.

Correspondents said most schools and offices remained open on Tuesday but people had had to walk to reach their destination.

Analysts say holding the election in the airport environment may also reduce the possibility of vote buying or other corruption in the election process.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since the fall of the Siad Barre regime in 1991. The Mogadishu-based government is backed by an African Union force, Amisom, made up of more than 22,000 troops and police, as well as civilian staff.

Al-Shabab has a presence in much of the southern third of the country and has carried out many attacks in Mogadishu.

Control map of Somalia

It has previously attacked the Somali parliament, presidential palace, courts, hotels and the fortified airport zone.

At least 19 politicians, as well as civilians and soldiers have been killed in its assaults.