Thursday, November 24, 2011

Somalia News Bulletin: Anti-Government Demonstrations Hit Mogadishu

Somalia: Government Arrests Displaced People in Mogadishu

Nov 24, 2011 - 7:26:54 AM

Soldiers loyal to the Transitional federal government of Somalia jailed on Thursday dozens of displaced families after they had been accused of taking part anti-government protests held in the capital, eyewitnesses said.

Local residents said the detainees were among thousands of displaced people who marched in protests on Thursday in Howlwadag district in Mogadishu to complain about living hardships faced them.

The protesters held massive demonstrations in front of Banadir region administration headquarter in Mogadishu, where some of them have been arrested by pro-government soldiers especially guards to Howlwadag district commissioner.

It is unclear the reason behind this move but sources close incident say it came after the protest organizers and Howlwadag district administration had a misunderstanding over talks held in Mogadishu on Thursday to tackle the complaint of internally displaced people in the IDP camps in the capital.

This is the first time for Howlwadag district authorities to jail displaced people in Mogadishu since droughts and famine hit parts of Somalia causing many people to pour into the capital for survival from the drought.

Source: All Africa

Somalia: President Takes Off to Ethiopia for Meeting

Nov 24, 2011 - 7:30:03 AM

A high delegation headed by the Horn Africa's war ravaged country Somalia, president Sheik Sharif flew on Thursday to Ethiopia to attend the IGAD forthcoming meeting in Addis Ababa.

The sources close to the Somalia's presidential palace said, the main reason of president Shariif to go to Ethiopia is to take part a special meeting to open in Addis Ababa tomorrow on Friday, that IGAD leaders would discuss the region's security and the recent Ethiopian army incursion into Somalia.

President Sharif was accompanied his trip by many officials of Transitional federal governments of Somalia including his defence minister Hussein Arab Issa.

The presence of the Ethiopian troops was hugely unpopular with Somalis, and with some analysts saying it was fanning support for new militant groups, they withdrew in early 2009.

Uganda is the second African country contributing peacekeeping forces in Somalia. Around 9,000 combat troops from Uganda and Brundi are now helping the UN-backed government of Somalia.

Al-shabab abandoned many bases in Somalia's capital of Mogadishu recently after heavy combat from Somalia army aiding with AMISOM.

Source:All Africa

Blast hits Kenya army truck near Somalia border

Nov 24, 2011 - 1:51:09 AM

A blast struck a Kenyan military truck in Mandera on Thursday, the army said, the latest in a spate of attacks on Kenyan security forces along the border with Somalia since the east African country sent troops across the frontier.

Kenyan Colonel Cyrus Oguna told Reuters the blast was caused by an improvised explosive device, and that the army was checking whether there were any fatalities or wounded.

"It was an IED. Were going to confirm the extent of damage. It hit a lorry carrying personnel. Right now there are no details of fatalities or wounded," Oguna said.

Leo Nyongesa, the police commander for North Eastern province in which Mandera town is located, told Reuters no soldiers had been killed in the incident, but some had been wounded.

Kenya has been plagued by a wave of attacks since it sent hundreds of soldiers into neighbouring Somalia last month to crush the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militant group.

Local media said 11 troops were wounded in the attack on the truck, and that they were being airlifted to the capital, Nairobi.

Local residents said security forces had sealed off the area around the blast site.

Mandera is in Kenya's sparsely populated far northeast, close to the porous borders with Ethiopia and Somalia.

Kenya, the region's biggest economy, is the latest of a string of foreign powers to try to stabilise Somalia, which has been mired in violence for two decades.

Source: Reuters

Jerry Rawlings Urges Politicians to Stop Bickering

Nov 24, 2011 - 6:30:21 AM

African Union High Representative for Somalia Jerry Rawlings yesterday challenged Kenyan politicians to stop bickering and instead engage in efforts that will instil professionalism in the war on al-Shabaab.

In what appears to be an appeal to politicians to shun attacks on divergent approaches being undertaken by the government to fight the militia group, Rawlings told politicians to get to the ground and assess the situation.

"Get up to the reality that we need to create an umbilical cord of the situation on the ground," he said adding there is need to enhance military movement in Somalia.

Speaking at the Department of Defence in Nairobi, Rawlings said: "There is need for politicians to empathise with the soldiers on the ground, and look for what needs to be done, it is antagonising," he said.

Rawlings assured the Kenyan team of success and called on the political leadership to synchronise with the military and ensure the operation yields desired results.

"AU has confidence in Kenya's capacity to deal with the situation," he said, and made an ascertion that Ethiopia will soon send its troops to help fight the militia.

He sought to exonerate Prime Minister Raila Odinga from recent claims that he was seeking for support from Israel to repulse the insurgent militia group.

"The PM [Odinga], was appealing for collaborative efforts at international level to fight terrorism," Rawlings said, adding that Kenya is equal to the task in the war-torn Somalia.

While affirming the complexity of the operation exercise, Rawlings called on the military to maintain professionalism so as to reduce civilian casualties.

Rawlings, a former President of Ghana said most of the military operations are being conducted in urban places, which puts the lives of many civilians at risk.

In a show of solidarity with Kenya's stand, Rawlings said: "Even though the provocation prompted the war, there is no need for undue collateral damage."

He said all efforts should be geared towards bringing peace to the horn of Africa by employing measures which include political engagement to bring the warring groups on board.

Citing the humanitarian situation in Somalia, Rawlings appealed to the international community to assist the civilians and make them comfortable.

"The operation has a high financial cost on Kenya, and the plight is not over, there is need to sustain and support the soldiers."

Speaking at the same function, Defence minister Yusuf Hajji said the war on al-Shabaab is an uphill task, but one aimed at regulating most places in the country.

He refuted claims that the government intends to blockade the town of Kismayu, and instead said it aims to control the interests within the town.

Source: Star Nairobi

Kenyan soldier killed after airstrikes on Somali rebels

Nov 24, 2011 - 7:25:38 AM

Kenya said on Thursday its warplanes destroyed two Islamist insurgent bases in neighbouring Somalia, but a bomb back on home soil killed a soldier and wounded four others.

The exchanges came six weeks after Nairobi sent troops and tanks into Somalia to fight the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents, accused of a series of attacks in Kenya including the abduction of four foreign women.

"KDF (Kenya Defence Force) air strikes successfully destroyed two Al-Shebab camps," army spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir said the day after the attacks near Badade, some 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the Kenyan border.

Early Thursday a bomb exploded under a military truck on patrol just inside Kenya, Chirchir said.

"Five KDF soldiers were seriously injured and have been airlifted to Garissa for treatment," he said, adding that one later "succumbed to his injuries."

Attackers opened fire on the soldiers after the blast, which happened near the Kenyan border town of Mandera, according to a senior police officer speaking on condition of anonymity.

Kenyan officials have blamed the hardline Shebab or their sympathisers for a spate of recent shootings and bombings, although armed bandits also operate in the border areas.

The extremist militia face growing pressure as regional armies slowly encircle them, with Kenyan forces in the south, Ugandan and Burundian African Union forces in Mogadishu and Ethiopian troops in the west.

The conflict however comes at a cost for civilians caught up in the skirmishes.

The United Nations warned Thursday that Ethiopia's reported deployment of troops into Somalia could worsen what is already the world's most severe humanitarian crisis.

"Local sources report that hundreds of Ethiopian troops entered Somalia on November 20 opening a new front against Al Shebab," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report.

"The humanitarian community is deeply concerned about the consequences that this intervention could have on the already fragile humanitarian situation due to access to the population," the report warned.

"The intensification of the conflict in Somalia threatens to increase internal displacement," it added, the first time the United Nations has warned of the potentially dangerous consequences of Ethiopia's move.

Some 250,000 people in south and central Somalia face imminent starvation, the UN report added, despite massive international efforts to get emergency aid out to critically affected regions of the war-torn country.

Witnesses told AFP on November 19 that convoys of lorries and hundreds of Ethiopian troops crossed into south and central Somalia. Addis Ababa has denied the reports.

Ethiopia pulled out its soldiers from Somalia in 2009 after a two-year invasion that defeated an Islamist movement, but the group's military wing, the Shebab, regrouped and has waged a bloody war against a provisional government that has only a tenuous hold.

Source: Agency France Press

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