Tag Archives: Somalia

Somalia – seven soldiers killed in fighting between Puntland and Galmadug


By Abdiqani Hassan and Abdi Sheikh | MOGADISHU

At least seven people were killed in weekend fighting between soldiers from two semi-autonomous regions of Somalia, officials from both sides said on Sunday, sparking fears of wider conflict.

The clashes which broke out on Saturday pitted forces from Puntland with those of Galmudug, the latest flare-up over a disputed area straddling their border.

The two sides are fighting in the town of Galkayo, which is divided between clan militias loyal to the different regions.

Hirsi Yusuf Barre, the mayor of Galkayo south, accused soldiers from Puntland of launching attacks first on Saturday.

“We lost three soldiers and 11 others were injured. We burned three vehicles belonging to Puntland,” he told Reuters on Sunday.

Major Mohamed Ibrahim, a military officer in Puntland, said four soldiers were killed on their side and seven others were injured.

“We have repulsed them,” he said.

Residents in the area said Galkayo was calm on Sunday but soldiers from both factions were seen reorganizing themselves for more clashes.

Earlier this month, the United Nations said the conflict could worsen and clashes had already displaced around 50,000 people.

Somalia has been at civil war for 25 years and clashes between the clan-based militias who control much of the country are common. In the south, forces loyal to the weak U.N.-backed government are also battling Islamist insurgents.

(Writing by Aaron Maasho Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

Somalia – 26 Asian sailors released by priates after four years

Al Jazeera 

Twenty-six Asian sailors, held captive in a small fishing village since 2012, were released on Saturday.

The sailors were held in Dabagala, northeast of the capital Mogadishu [Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP]

Somali pirates have freed 26 Asian sailors held captive in a small fishing village for more than four years, an official and a maritime expert said on Saturday.

The sailors – from China, the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan – were seized when the Omani-flagged FV Naham 3 was hijacked close to the Seychelles in March 2012.

Their period of captivity is one of the longest among hostages seized by pirates in the Horn of Africa nation.

“We are very pleased to announce the release of the Naham 3 crew early this morning,” said John Steed, East Africa region manager for the Oceans Beyond Piracy group.

“The crew is staying overnight in Galkayo. They will arrive in Nairobi at 18.30 local time tomorrow.”

He said they were in the hands of authorities in Galmudug, in central Somalia, and would be repatriated on a UN humanitarian flight before being sent back to their home countries.

Mayor Hirsi Yusuf Barre told Reuters news agency the “crew did not say if ransom was paid”.

Steed said one member of the crew had died during the hijacking while two succumbed to illness. Among those released, one was being treated for a gunshot wound to the foot and three were diabetic.

The sailors were held in Dabagala near the town of Harardheere, about 400km northeast of the capital Mogadishu.

Harardheere became known as Somalia’s main pirate base at the height of the crisis.

The Oceans Beyond Piracy group said the crew were brought ashore by pirates when their ship sank more than a year after its hijacking.

Piracy off Somalia’s coast has subsided in the past three years, mainly due to shipping firms hiring private security details and the presence of international warships.

The wave of attacks had cost the world’s shipping industry billions of dollars as pirates paralysed shipping lanes, kidnapped hundreds of seafarers and seized vessels more than 2,000km from Somalia’s coastline.

Source: Agencies

Somalia Abductions Africa

The Mayor of Mogadishu and reporting Africa

The Conversation

The Mayor of Mogadishu: what you get when African cliché is dropped

September 28, 2016 6.17pm SAST

Mohamed Noor (left) and Huda Omar pose for a photograph during their wedding ceremony in Mogadishu, a picture at odds with the city’s reputation.Reuters/Feisal Omar

News reporting is always shaped by a considerable amount of tension. How do you strike the balance between hooking the audience with the sensational while supplying sufficient detail and context for an informed understanding of the events being reported?

This tension is most apparent when dealing with complex issues set in environments geographically distant from your audience. Reporting Africa to the world has been shaped by this tension. It has also been shaped by frames that can replicate colonial prejudices, Cold War stereotypes or project images of “otherness”.

This is captured in Africa’s Media Image in the 21st Century: From Heart of Darkness to Africa Rising, a new volume by Mel Bunce, Suzanne Franks and Chris Paterson.

In their fascinating and informative new study of Africa’s media image, the trio relate how journalists have to fight to get stories from Nigeria and other key states into the news as areas worthy of reporting in their own right and not just when there was “trouble” there.

They quote the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who says that if …

all I knew about Africa were from popular images, I too would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals, and incomprehensible people, fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS, unable to speak for themselves and waiting to be saved by a kind, white foreigner.

Somalia is Black Hawk Down

If there is one country that could sum up this, it is Somalia. Decades of war, civil dislocation, poverty, hunger and disease have been the stock-in-trade of Western reporting. Given the country’s history this is not altogether surprising. It has been almost constantly at war since the uprisings in the late 1980s that overthrew the dictator Siad Barre.

The dictator’s departure led to the fragmentation of a highly centralised system of government, the growth of clan-based militias and the rise of Islamist movements. This in turn drew the hostility of neighbours and the US.

For many in the West reliant on sporadic but sensationalist media coverage, Somalia is Black Hawk Down. Added to that is a dash of piracy, stick-thin children starved by rapacious warlords and saved only by Western aid or intervention. Until, of course, that intervention went horribly wrong.

Harding’s grasp for the detail

There are elements of these themes but, fortunately, a lot more to be found in the intriguing new work, The Mayor of Mogadishu by Andrew Harding. There is detail, nuance, context and first-hand experience in this account by the well-travelled BBC foreign correspondent.

At times, it reads like a series of dispatches. While this may make it a little disjointed, it imbues the story with the sense of being there and knowing what is important to report or describe.

Harding is very well aware of the danger of stereotypes. He warns at the start that the name Mogadishu seems “forbidding” and has in the media

become a bloated cliché, not just of war but of famine and piracy, terrorism, warlords, anarchy, exodus … All the worst headlines of our time invoked by one lilting, gently poetic, four-syllable word.

Harding peoples the city and brings it alive as a place where lives are lived, ambitions followed, family dramas played out and stories told. As he points out, some stories are exaggerated for effect or to inflate the egos of the tellers or flatter their subjects. The central character is Mohamud “Tarzan” Nur – the Mayor of Mogadishu.

There are many and often conflicting stories of a man whose image to fellow Somalis is equally complex. He is hated or despised by some, loved and admired by others. Among his stories is the one about escaping a school dormitory to hang from the branches of a tree, earning himself the nickname Tarzan.

Mohamud Nur is a man of passion, of drive, of ruthlessness. His language is colourful and, in a passage where Harding comes perilously close to Somali stereotyping, can sound “like a gunfight in a sandstorm”.

Siad Barre gets off lightly

The author is surprisingly forgiving of the Somali dictator Siad Barre. He says that history has not been kind to him. Should it have been? A man who overthrew an elected government and switched sides in the Cold War to maximise his accumulation of weaponry. These weapons were used to pursue violent irredentist campaigns and to suppress brutally any vestige of opposition. On the pretext of ending clan conflict, this man used force and coercion against clans and their leaders. All these while single-mindedly pursuing advantage for his own Marehan clan, which is part of the wider Darod clan system.

The Marehan dominance eventually, as Harding does go on to describe, led to revolt and a high degree of polarisation back into clans by the majority that were excluded from power and influence.

Later in the book, clear analysis and context are more assured with the description of the US’s “coldly logical” but totally misinformed conclusions about the situation in Somalia. This led to US funding for warlords out of a 9/11 generated fear of the Somali Islamic Courts Union, which was succeeding in ending conflict and bringing stability to Mogadishu.

Washington encouraged Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia and destruction of the Islamic Courts Union. This led to its militia, the Al Shabaab, becoming the dominant and destructive Islamist force it remains today.

The contemporary part of the story and continuing vicissitudes are again viewed through the eyes of Nur, his wife and friends. This gives a personal and very human touch to the whole narrative while not losing sight of complex national and international dimensions.

This ability to both tell stories with impact and grasp the impact of a multiplicity of factors emerges from the Bunce, Franks and Paterson volume as the key factor in getting the media to portray more accurate, informed and less stereotypical accounts of events in African states.

Kenya-Somalia – Kenyatta in Mogadishu for IGAD summit

Daily Nation


President Uhuru Kenyatta arrives in Somalia for the 28th Igad Extra-Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government on September 13, 2016.


President Uhuru Kenyatta arrives in Somalia for the 28th Igad Extra-Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government on September 13, 2016. PHOTO | PSCU
The summit is also attended by Uganda President Yoweri Museveni and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia are among the countries with troops in Somalia.

President Uhuru Kenyatta today flew into the Somali capital Mogadishu to attend a special Igad summit.

President Kenyatta arrived at Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu and was received by his host President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud.

This is the first visit to Somalia by a Kenyan Head of State in three decades.

President Kenyatta and President Mohamoud later held brief bilateral talks at a hotel near the airport ahead of the special Igad summit.

The summit, also attended by Uganda President Yoweri Museveni and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, will discuss the progress Somalia has made towards entrenching security and stability.

Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia are among the countries with troops in Somalia.

US pushing for deployment of extra UN troops in South Sudan


By Lesley Wroughton | NAIROBI

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday he and regional states were committed to giving momentum to the planned deployment of extra U.N. troops to South Sudan and said the country’s leaders needed to recommit to a peace deal.

Fierce fighting in the capital Juba last month has raised fears that the five-year-old nation could slide back into civil war. It prompted the United Nations to authorise the deployment of 4,000 additional U.N. troops to bolster a U.N. mission there.

“We need to move forward with the deployment of a regional protection force,” Kerry told a news conference in Nairobi after talks with foreign ministers from Kenya and other African states that had focused on South Sudan and Somalia’s reconstruction.

Kerry said regional states, which have pushed for sending the new troops to help South Sudan’s 12,000-strong U.N. mission UNMISS, had agreed on “the immediate implementation process” of meetings and steps to “guarantee some momentum builds up.”

About two years of conflict that pitted troops loyal to President Salva Kiir against those of his former deputy Riek Machar was supposed to have ended with a peace deal last year. But fighting persisted and flared again last month in Juba.

After the latest violence, Machar, who had returned to the capital in April to resume his post as vice president, withdrew again to the bush and was picked up this month by U.N. peace keepers in Democratic Republic of Congo with a leg injury.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Linda Thomas-Greenfield attend bilateral talks with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta at the State House in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, August 22, 2016.REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Kiir has again sacked him and appointed a new vice president.

Kerry said it was up to South Sudan’s leaders, political parties and neighbours to work out “what is best or not best with respect to Machar”, but all sides had to stop fighting.

“We urged all the parties to recommit in word and deed to the full implementation of the peace agreement,” Kerry said.

Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed, speaking at the same news conference, said the new U.N. force should be deployed “sooner rather than later” but said it could be sent gradually.

South Sudan’s government initially said it would not cooperate with the new U.N. troops which will be under the command of the 12,000-strong UNMISS mission. But since then it has said it was still considering its position.

“We have not rejected it or accepted it. The sovereignty of the people of South Sudan will be decided by the parliament,” South Sudan’s presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said.

World powers and regional states have struggled to find leverage over South Sudan’s warring factions despite U.S. and European sanctions on some military leaders and African threats of punitive actions.

South Sudan secured its independence in 2011, but by December 2013 the longtime political rivalry between Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and Machar, a Nuer, had led to civil conflict that often followed ethnic lines.

The fighting has killed thousands of people and driven more than 2 million people from their homes, with many of them fleeing to neighbouring states.

Kerry, who pledged new humanitarian aid to South Sudan worth $138 million, said the new U.N. troop contingent was “not an intervention force” but would protect civilians and support those working to ensure peace prevailed.

In the latest flare-up in July, Washington was particularly concerned by an attack on a Juba hotel by uniformed men who killed a U.S.-funded journalist and raped civilians, including aid workers.

The U.N. has launched an investigation into accusations U.N. peace keepers in Juba failed to respond properly to the attack.

South Sudanese government officials say that just because the perpetrators were in uniform did not mean they were either under the command of the government or the opposition.

(Additional reporting by Denis Dumo in Juba; Editing by Edmund Blair and Dominic Evans)

Uganda – nine soldiers in AU force jailed over fuel racket


Three of the Ugandan soldiers who were jailed - 15 August 2016AMISOM The court martial was held at the Amisom headquarters in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu

Nine Ugandan soldiers serving as peacekeepers in Somalia have been jailed for running a fuel racket.

The African Union (AU) said they had been sentenced to between one year and three years by a Ugandan military court, which sat in Somalia.

The officers, including two majors, were arrested in a sting operation in June.

The AU mission is fighting alongside Somali government forces against al-Shabab Islamist militants.

It was the first time a military court connected to the AU mission (Amisom) had sat in Somalia since the troops were deployed nine years ago.

Correspondents say it was decided to do so as an attempt to show Somalia’s citizens that the Amisom force was being held to account.

A soldier has his pips removed as he is stripped of his rank after a trail which found him guilty of pursuing personal gain and endangering operational efficiency in Mogadishu, Somalia, on 15 August 2016AMISOM Some of the soldiers found guilty were also stripped of their ranks

The nine were among 18 soldiers arraigned before the court for selling fuel belonging to Amisom to civilians in the capital, Mogadishu, an Amisom statement said.

“The prosecution has proved all the accusations of pursuing personal interest and endangering operational efficiency beyond reasonable doubt,” it quoted Uganda’s Brig Gen Dick Olum as saying.

Three of the soldiers had also been “dismissed with disgrace from the army”, and would lose their benefits, it added.

Uganda is the highest troop contributor to the 22,000-strong Amisom force.

In June, the BBC also found that allowances paid to Amisom troops were being withheld because the European Union, which provides the funding, had accounting issues over a previous payment.

The deployment allowance is much more than the often meagre salaries the soldiers receive from their governments.

Somalia – Mogadishu hotel bomb


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.