Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Somalia News Update: Blasts Kill Civilians at Bakara Market

Somalia: blasts kill civilians at Bakara market

Tue. July 10, 2007 04:06 pm.
By Mohamed Abdi Farah

(SomaliNet) Four separate bombs exploded in Mogadishu’s Bakara market killing at least two persons and wounding seven others some of them policemen. Government soldiers involving in the major security operations are target for bomb attacks carried out by the opposition groups.

“As I was harrying to work place, a bomb exploded outside the Abu-Hureyra mosque inside Bakara market, it was a huge blast caused by a hand grenade bomb thrown by unknown person who sneaked through the public,” said Amino Mohamed.

A number of government policemen have been injured in the first blast while three other explosions rocked the market. Medical sources say that the injured policemen were taken to Medina hospital.

The government soldiers did not open fire today as they used to make when bomb explodes.

Dozens of civilians have been killed and hundreds more were wounded in Mogadishu since the interim government began the search operations a week ago.

2 killed as fresh blasts rock Mogadishu

MOGADISHU (AFP) — Two Somali civilians were killed Tuesday and five others wounded as a busy Mogadishu market was struck by grenade attacks for the second consecutive day, witnesses and security sources said.

The violence that hit the restive capital's Bakara market was a repeat of the previous day, when three people were killed in grenade attacks by suspected insurgents and police reprisals in the same area.

"A shopkeeper was killed when the government forces opened fire after they were attacked by unknown men with handgrenades," eyewitness Abdullahi Jamaa told an AFP reporter on the scene.

"He died on the spot and two others were also wounded," he added.

A second grenade attack targeting government forces in the same area left another civilian dead and several others wounded, witnesses said.

"We heard a heavy explosion and then smoke billowed everywhere," Hussein Abakey told AFP.

"It was a handgrenade thrown by someone hiding in the crowd. It killed one civilian and apparently wounded three others," he added.

Despite the daily hit-and-run attacks by suspected Islamist insurgents, a senior police official said security operations had been stepped up in Mogadishu ahead of a national reconciliation meeting scheduled for Sunday.

"Insurgents have blended into the community and they are attacking the government forces with grenades but I can tell you that the city is under martial law and our forces are carrying out raids," the police commander said on condition of anonymity.

He acknowledged complaints that civilians were often falling victim to the police's heavy-handed response to insurgent attacks but predicted the violence would soon recede.

"We know that a number of civilians have died during the operations but security will improve soon after this military assignment is over," he said.

Somali police raided a mosque in southern Mogadishu's Bulo-Hubey neighbourhood Tuesday and arrested more than 30 people, witnesses said.

"We don't know why those people were rounded up but I was praying inside the mosque when the forces besieged the building and ordered people to put their hands up," a faithful, Sheikh Ali Adan, told AFP.

"They arrested more than 30 people and left only a handful of us behind," he added.

Government officials, Ethiopian troops and African Union peacekeepers have been targeted in the attacks blamed on Islamists determined to sabotage efforts to restore stability in Mogadishu.

The attacks, as well as insufficient funding, have delayed a government-sponsored reconciliation conference three times. It is now scheduled for July 15.

Somalia has been without a functioning central authority since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohammad Siad Barre touched off a bloody power struggle that has defied numerous attempts to restore stability.

Gun battle kills five in southern Somalia

Tue. July 10, 2007 03:57 pm.
By Mohamed Abdi Farah

(SomaliNet) A new flareup of fighting between Somalia government troops and militia loyal to former ruler in lower Shabelle region, south of Somalia left five people dead and six others wounded on Monday, local residents said this morning.

Eyewitnesses in Shalanbod town, 10 km away from the coastal Marka city, the provincial capital of lower Shabelle region told Somalinet by telephone this morning that the fighting started yesterday in the town between the newly arrived government forces and militia loyal former administration in the region.

“The fighting lasted many hours till last night in Shalanbod where the warring sides exchanged heavy weaponry. Government soldiers took control of the town and there is still a war tension in the area,” said Osman Mayow a local resident.

The gun battle has stopped this morning despite sporadic gun fire that could be heard near the town. The fighting has had an impact on the inhabitants in Shalanbod.

Meanwhile, one civilian was killed and two others were wounded in a skirmish in Marka city this morning between the government soldiers and armed militiamen.

Radio Shabelle Raided Four Times in 48 Hours, Troops Threaten to Kill Staff, Following Coverage of Military Abuses

Committee to Protect Journalists (New York)
10 July 2007

A prominent broadcaster covering public reaction to a large-scale government security crackdown in the commercial district of the capital, Mogadishu, was raided four times over the weekend by Somali government troops, according to news reports and the National Union of Somali Journalists.

In four separate raids since Friday, troops searched the offices of Radio Shabelle, a leading independent station, according to the same sources. Troops searched for weapons, threatened staff at gunpoint, and disrupted live broadcasts, but the searches did not yield any weapons, journalists at the station told CPJ. Last month, authorities confiscated guns carried by the station's security personnel after conducting a search, according to CPJ research.

The station had aired recent interviews in which merchants and local residents alleged abuses by joint Somali-Ethiopian military forces in and around Mogadishu's main Bakara market, local journalists told CPJ. Authorities launched a massive security sweep of the market last week in response to a spate of deadly attacks in the area, according to news reports.

Thousands of people have been killed or wounded in grenade attacks and roadside blasts set off by armed groups, and in counter-attacks by security forces since Ethiopian-backed Somali forces ousted an Islamist group from control of Mogadishu late last year. Battles in Mogadishu between March 12 and April 26 alone killed at least 1,670 people, The Associated Press reported.

"The repeated raids on the premises of Radio Shabelle and the death threats against its staff are in direct response to its independent coverage of the volatile situation in Mogadishu," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "The Somali transitional government must restrain its security forces and stop harassing the radio station immediately."

The station was first raided on Friday afternoon when about eight soldiers entered the studios, interrupting a live broadcast from newscaster Abdinur Mohammed Kadie, according to sources at the station who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. Soldiers searched the station room to room, threatening to kill staff, including sports producer Abdi Rashid Abdi Ahmad, if any weapons were found. They also detained a staff security guard for an hour.

Separate groups of soldiers respectively returned on Friday evening, Sunday morning, and Sunday afternoon, forcing staff out of the studios and conducting more searches, the sources said.

It was the fourth time this year Radio Shabelle had been harassed, according to CPJ research. Last month, the station's coverage of another government security crackdown led authorities to shutter the station for four days on accusations of fomenting unrest.

Somalia has had no effective central government since the fall of dictator Siad Barre in 1991. Rival Somali factions are scheduled to participate in a key reconciliation conference next week, according to news reports.

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