Somalia

Deadly Ramadan in Somalia

Militant group al-Shabab has lived up to its promise to step up attacks in Somalia, mainly against government installations and personnel, during the holy month of Ramadan, which began on June 29. Over 30 people have been killed in Mogadishu alone. On July 8, the presidential compound was attacked during the iftar evening meal. Assailants entered the gate using a car bomb, and then engaged in a two-hour gun battle with palace guards, killing 14 soldiers. On July 5, at least four people, including two children, were killed when a suicide car bomb was detonated outside of the parliament building. Just two days earlier, a long-time member of parliament, Mohamed Mohamud, was killed with his bodyguard when armed assailants opened fire on his car. In response, the Somali government fired the police commissioner and head of the intelligence agency. Since then however, attacks have continued daily. Local media reported that the Ministry of Defense was attacked July 14.

Kenya: Muslims displaced in wake of terror attack

Dozens of Muslim families in Mpeketoni, a coastal Kenyan town where more than 60 people have been killed in separate attacks this week, have fled following  threats and assaults from the Christian majority. "Mpeketoni is not safe for us," Ali Lali Uweso, the headmaster of primary school, told Anadolu Agency by phone.  "As we speak, we are travelling in a convoy of several vehicles from Mpeketoni with Swahili and other Muslim families heading to Mokowe Jetty to take a boat to the islands." The Swahili people are an ethnic group whose name is derived from the Arabic word meaning coastal. Local residents confirmed that a Swahili Muslim man in his 50s was beaten unconscious by youth armed with crude weapons who claimed to be avenging the victims of the recent attacks. At least nine were killed and a number of others wounded in the June 16 attacks in the usually quiet town near the Somali border. The previous evening, at least 53 were killed in armed attacks on a three hotels and a police station in the town. The attacks were reportedly claimed by the Somali rebel group al-Shabaab. (World Bulletin, Al Jazeera, June 18)

Disease, hunger fears after Somalia cyclone

Two weeks after a tropical cyclone struck the northeast coast of Somalia, killing more than 100 people and thousands of head of livestock, important infrastructure lies in ruins and fears of an outbreak of waterborne diseases are mounting. The storm struck the autonomous region of Puntland from Nov. 8. "For four days, the cyclone brought heavy rainfall, icy winds, flash floods, and mudslides. Roads, houses, mosques, schools and farms were destroyed. Fishing boats sank. Water sources were damaged," according to Adeso, a humanitarian and development agency.

US sea raid on Somali rebel stronghold

Foreign forces launched a night raid on a rebel-held town in Somalia's southern Lower Shabelle region from the sea Oct. 4. "Westerners in boats attacked our base at Barawe beach and one was martyred from our side," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabaab's spokesman for military operations, told Reuters by telephone. Sources indicated that the target of the raid may have been Shabaab leader Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr AKA Ahmed Godane—but he was apparently not killed or captured. It is unclear whether any Shabaab leaders were killed in the operation. Pentagon spokesman George Little told NBC the next day: "I can confirm that yesterday, Oct. 4, US military personnel were involved in a counterterrorism operation against a known al-Shabaab terrorist. We are not prepared to provide additional detail at this time." (BBC News, NBCGarowe Online, Oct. 5)

Somalia: protest forced evictions in Mogadishu

Thousands of displaced persons who have taken refuge in Somalia's capital Mogadishu are being forcibly evicted from makeshift camps as the government presses ahead with plans to clean up the city, Amnesty said in a briefing released Sept. 13. "It is completely unacceptable for people who have fled to the capital for protection to be forcibly evicted. It has resulted in large scale human rights abuses," said Gemma Davies, Amnesty's Somalia researcher. "The government has a responsibility to protect this vulnerable sector of society and ensure their security." More than 300,000 live in settlements in Mogadishu, where they are sheltering from cyclical drought, famine and the two-decades-long armed conflict.

Somali Islamic scholars denounce Shabab in fatwa

Some 160 Somali religious scholars came together in Mogadishu on Set. 11 to issue a fatwa denouncing al-Shabab, saying the rebel group has no place in Islam. The Fatwa calls al-Shabab a "strayed group," and called upon members to repent from its "criminal acts." It asserted that Somalia's interim government is a Muslim government and it is illegal to call it "apostate" or to wield arms against it. It forbids Muslims from joining or providing support to al-Shabab, and mandates support for the government's fight against the rebels.

Somali militants in Kenya incursion

At least 10 Shabaab rebel fighters were reportedly killed in heavy clashes with Kenyan security forces Aug. 21 after the Somali rebels crossed the border and attacked a military patrol. Local authorities in the town of Garissa, North Eastern state, said Shabaab fighters attacked a Kenyan border patrol with grenades, mortars and small arms, sparking a battle that lasted for nearly an hour, residents said. There was a similar incident last week, when Shabaab fighters raided a police post at Galmagala, in Garissa county's Fafi district, some 10 kilometers from Somalia's border, killing four officers and seizing weapons. (Garowe Online via AllAfrica, Aug. 22)

US awards $15 million to Somali torture victim

A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on Aug. 20 awarded (CJA press release, PDF) $5 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages to a victim of torture at the hands of a Somali military colonel some 25 years ago. Judge George Smith determined in November that constitutional law professor Abukar Hassan Ahmed was arbitrarily detained by Col. Abdi Aden Magan's subordinates for three months in 1988. The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ahmed in 2010, when Magan was residing in Ohio. This is the largest amount ever awarded in a US court for the torture of one individual by another, but since Magan has left the US it is uncertain whether Ahmed could ever actually receive any damages. Ahmed currently serves as an adviser to the president of Somalia.

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