Tag Archives: Somalia

Somalia – Mogadishu hotel bomb

Reuters

Somali Islamist militants attack hotel in Mogadishu

Somalia’s al Shabaab Islamist group launched a suicide bomb attack on a hotel in the center of Mogadishu on Saturday before fighters stormed inside, police and the militant group said.

Police said at least 15 people had died, including guards at the site, civilians and militants. Others were wounded.

Gunfire had echoed round the seaside capital after the blast and ambulances raced to the scene. Police later said fighting had ended but they were searching the site for militants.

“We attacked the hotel which was frequented by the apostate government members,” al Shabaab military operations spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters. He said at least 20 guards and civilians were killed.

Al Shabaab, which frequently carries out attacks in the capital in its bid to topple the Western-backed government, often gives casualty numbers that are higher than figures announced by officials.

Police said the initial blast was caused by a suicide bomber before fighters stormed into the Nasahablood hotel, leading to a heavy exchange of gunfire. Officers said some people had managed to escape through the rear of the building.

“The operation has now ended but we are still combing the building for any possible militants who are hiding,” Major Ali Mohamed, a police officer, told Reuters.

The United States and other Western countries have been among the biggest donors to the government in Mogadishu as it slowly rebuilds after years of conflict and prepares for parliamentary and presidential elections later this year.

“We strongly condemn this attack,” a U.S. State Department official said in a statement. “We remain committed to Somalia’s security and stability, and are proud to stand side-by-side with Somalia in the fight against terrorism.”

The vote planned for August will be by limited franchise rather than one-person-one-vote, which officials and diplomats say would be too difficult while still fighting an insurgency.

Muslims in Somalia and around the world are observing Ramadan. In previous years, al Shabaab has often intensified attacks during the fasting month, frequently picking targets where people gather just before or after breaking the fast.

(Additional reporting by David Lawder in Washington; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Jane Merriman)

View of vehicles parked near the scene of a suicide bomb attack outside Nasahablood hotel in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, June 25, 2016.
REUTERS/FEISAL OMAR

Uganda – Museveni says troops will be out of Somalia by end of 2017

Reuters

Uganda plans to withdraw its troops from Somalia by December 2017, signalling it is scaling back regional military interventions after it said it planned a similar pullback from Central African Republic.

President Yoweri Museveni has intervened in several regional security hotspots, deploying troops to help quell unrest in Somalia, Central African Republic and South Sudan in recent years.

A staunch ally of the United States, Museveni has faced a groundswell of opposition at home since winning a disputed presidential election in February.

Uganda deployed in Somalia in 2007, the first of several troop contingents from the region in the African Union-mandated AMISOM force formed to combat al Shabaab Islamist militants, who had established a power base in the Horn of African country.

“Our plan that we have communicated to the African Union is that by December 2017 we want to be out,” Paddy Ankunda, Uganda military spokesman, told Reuters late on Thursday.

“So unless something major comes up that’s the time we want to come out of Somalia.”

Uganda accounts for about a third of the roughly 22,000-strong AMISOM force.

Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for twin bombings in Kampala in 2010 that killed 76 people, which it called a punishment for Uganda’s troop deployment in Somalia. Although since pushed out of its strongholds, the group remains a potent and deadly threat.

Paddy declined to give a reason for the planned Somalia withdrawal, which followed a similar announcement two weeks ago concerning Central African Republic, where Ugandan troops have been helping track down fighters from the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group led by Ugandan Joseph Kony.

Museveni, who is widely expected to seek another term in 2021, won February’s ballot with 60 percent of the vote, a result rejected by his main rival Kizza Besigye.

Besigye has since been charged with treason and is currently in jail awaiting trial.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; editing by John Stonestreet)

Somalia – war in Yemen damages prospects of camel traders

Al Jazeera

Somali camel traders pay the price of war in Yemen

With markets in the Middle East paralysed by war, Somali traders say their livelihoods are at risk of collapse.

Hamza Mohamed

Hamza Mohamed is a producer for Doha, Qatar-based Al Jazeera English, covering Sub-Saharan Africa.

SOMALIA’S CAMELS IN NUMBERS:

  • 2014 – Exported 77,000 camels
  • 2016 – Exported 2,000 camels
  • Globally – Estimated 14 million camels
  • Somalia – Estimated 7 million camels

(Source: FAO)

Elasha Biyaha, Somalia – It is Wednesday morning in a tea shop made of sticks and tarpaulin next to an expansive open air livestock market in the pop-up town of Elasha Biyaha, 16km southwest of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

A group of middle-aged men sit on plastic and wooden chairs, ears glued to a radio broadcasting the 9am news bulletin. The men are camel traders, and they are following the latest news from the wars in Yemen, Syria and Iraq.

The conflicts in these faraway countries have affected their trade and livelihoods badly. Business is slow and the traders say they barely make any money.

“Business was very good when our animals used to be taken abroad,” Musa Hassan told Al Jazeera, surrounded by camels chewing the cud under the morning sun. He has been in the business for more than 20 years.

Change of fortunes

The Horn of Africa country used to export millions of camels to these Arab countries each year but when the conflicts started, exports slowed. Then they came to a complete halt as the war in Yemen made it too risky to use the Yemeni sea to export the animals.

“The profit margins are better when the animals are taken abroad. People in those countries have more money and can afford to pay more for our camels,” Hassan explained.

In 2014, Somalia exported a record five million livestock to countries in the Gulf, the highest number of live animals exported from the east African country in more than two decades, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). That included 77,000 camels. This year, only 2,000 camels have left Mogadishu port, the largest port in the country.

Of the world’s estimated 14 million camels, Somalia, a country of some 10 million people, has more than seven million – the highest number in the world.

Livestock is the backbone of the Somali economy with more than 65 percent of the population engaged in some way in the industry, according to the FAO. Furthermore,World Bank figures indicate that the export of livestock and their products accounts for 80 percent of the country’s foreign exchange.

By the side of the market is a small stall selling cold drinks to traders and hawkers. Amina Noor, a mother of five, has worked at the market for five years and has seen the change in the market’s fortunes first-hand.

“Everything is slow. More animals used to be brought to the market. Traders used to have more money to spend. Now less of them come to the market and the animals at the market used to be a lot more than you see today,” said Noor, pointing at the herds of camels.

Somalia exported 77,000 camels in 2014 [Ahmed Farah/Al Jazeera]

The price of meat

With markets in the Middle East out of reach, traders are trying their luck at the local meat markets in Mogadishu. Thirty minutes’ drive from the livestock market in the Bulo Hubey area of the Somali capital is one such place. Customers flock here early in the morning to get the freshest cut before restaurants put in the day’s order.

But Abdiweli Mursal, a meat trader at the market, said they were not doing any better than the traders at the livestock market.

“Before, the market was better,” Mursal said, referring to the time exports were shipped almost daily out of Somalia. The money exporters made used to trickle down to everyone in the city, according to Noor.

“People had more money and they could afford to buy meat. The price of meat is still the same. Our business is connected to the general economy in the country which is not very good,” Mursal added.

The Somali Chamber of Commerce and Industry agrees, and says that the economic consequences of the conflicts in Middle Eastern countries have already been felt in Somalia.

“Ships carrying camels were turned back from Yemen because of the ongoing conflict there. The stop in export has affected people badly. Hundreds of jobs have been lost and many more will be lost if exports don’t start again. Somalia is suffering because of wars elsewhere,” Abdi Abshir Dorre, director general of the Somali Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Al Jazeera.

According to Dorre, the current plight of traders in the livestock industry is worse than that witnessed during the 2011 and 1993 drought that hit the country.

“Traders still have the running costs to pay. The animals need looking after. They require feeding and vaccinations, and all these things cost money. The livestock industry also determines the value of the dollar against the Somali shilling. And the value of the dollar determines everything in the market,” Dorre said.

Back at the livestock market, traders say they feel powerless and talk of their livelihoods being caught up in a fight they have nothing to do with.

“I’m a trader. I sell camels and that is the only thing I know anything about. I don’t know how or why the conflict started but I’m praying it ends so that our business goes back to its normal way,” Hassan, the camel trader, said.


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Follow Hamza Mohamed on Twitter: @Hamza_Africa

Somalia-Kenya – Jubaland minister says Garissa attack mastermind killed

Star (Kenya)

WANTED: Mohammed Kuno.

WANTED: Mohammed Kuno.

The security minister in Somalia’s Jubaland region has confirmed that the suspected mastermind of the deadly assault on Kenya’s Garissa University College has been killed.

Mohamed Kuno was killed with four other people, Abdirashid Janan said at a media briefing in the Somali port city of Kismayo.

The Jubaland government had the bodies of the men, he added.

In 2015, the Kenyan-born mastermind of the massacre of 148 people in Garissa defected from al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabaab to a pro-ISIS faction, intelligence reports indicated.

Kuno alias Gamadhere, previously al Shabaab Lower Juba commander, joined the more extremist and violent faction in the last week of November.

Kuno defected with 1,200 fighters, who include Jaysh Ayman. They hid in Boni Forest in Kenya and the Ras-Kamboni areas in Somalia.

Victims of the April 2 terror attack on Garissa University College included 142 students.

Kenya had offered a $215,000 (Sh21.9 million) reward for any information that may lead to Kuno’s capture.

He is a close confidant of Sheikh Muumin, the self-declared Somali leader of an al Shabaab faction that joined an ISIS faction in Somalia.

Somaliland – 25 years of non-recognition as a state

Al Jazeera

Hargeisa, Somaliland – On May 18, 1991, Somaliland declared its independence from Somalia. Twenty-five years on, it still has not received legal recognition from the international community. 

“Even if they don’t recognise us, our independence is by virtue of our existence and by virtue of our liberty,” said Yussef Ali, who had taken his four young sons to join the crowds that lined Independence Avenue to watch the May 18 independence parade under the harsh sun.

Around 500,000 Somalilanders were expected to fill the streets of the capital, Hargeisa, for the big day. But despite the festivities and the resolve of its people, Somaliland is straining after a quarter of a century of non-statehood. Its economy is fragile, making this apparent against the odds success story vulnerable.

“It’s absolutely unfair,” said Saad Ali Shire, the minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, after a conference the preceding day titled, The Republic of Somaliland: The Case for Recognition.

“We can’t get international credit or foreign investment to build the country and create jobs as we are not recognised.”

After the civil war at the end of the 1980s left much of Hargeisa in ruins and its population scattered – many in refugee camps in neighbouring Ethiopia – Somaliland rebuilt itself in “extraordinary isolation,” explained Matthew Bryden, a political analyst who has been involved in Somaliland since its formation.

Somaliland has demonstrated that rarest of things: self-generated post-conflict reconstruction resulting in peace, democracy and good governance without international intervention.

Since 2003, Somaliland has held a series of democratic elections resulting in orderly transfers of power, exhibiting a level of political maturity that has eluded many recognised states.

But as another anniversary passes, it seems Somaliland cannot rely on its 25-year track record to gain what it so sorely desires.

“Somaliland pursued recognition for 21 years in the absence of a Somali government and was unsuccessful. Now, there’s a recognised government in Mogadishu, [and] Somaliland’s challenge is even greater,” said Bryden.

“Whether they stay together or separate, their populations, economies, even security, are interdependent. They have no alternative to dialogue.”

Somalia – US air strike kills five Al Shabaab fighters says Pentagon

Reuters

A U.S. forces in Somalia called in a military air strike on Thursday that killed five fighters from the al Qaeda-linked militant group al Shabaab, the Pentagon said.

The U.S. forces had been advising Ugandan soldiers with the African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) when the Ugandan forces got into a firefight with 15-20 Shabaab militants, Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

Somalia – African Union troops kill civilians

BBC

Amisom troops, fileReuters Amisom has more than 22,000 soldiers and police in Somalia

African Union (AU) troops have killed four civilians travelling in a car in southern Somalia, sparking protests.

The incident took place near Bulla Marer, 60km (37 miles) south-west of the capital, Mogadishu.

The dead include an 80-year-old woman and her nine-year-old granddaughter who were sick and were travelling to the capital, Mogadishu, for treatment.

The AU Mission said scared soldiers had opened fire when the car failed to stop at a roadblock.

Abdiwahid Ibrahim Maalim, the son of the elderly woman killed, said she and the granddaughter were in the car with two of his friends, one of them the driver, when the troops killed them.

Residents of Lower Shabelle have protested, denouncing the killings.

The African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) confirmed the deaths but said it did not believe the four were deliberately killed.

Amisom spokesman Col Joe Kibet told BBC Somali that the driver had defied an order to stop.

Amisom has more than 22,000 soldiers and police, the majority from six African countries, deployed in Somalia to protect the government there.

Map of Somalia
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