Saturday, September 22, 2007

Somali Update: New UN Envoy Holds Meetings in Mogadishu; Policemen Wounded in Bomb Attacks, etc.

New UN envoy to Somalia holds first meetings in Mogadishu

22 September 2007 – The newly appointed United Nations envoy to Somalia arrived today in country’s capital, Mogadishu, for talks with leaders of the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs) in a bid to encourage national reconciliation.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, met with President Yusuf, Prime Minister Gedi, Honorable Aden Mohamed Nur, Speaker of the Transitional Federal Parliament, and other officials.

Mr. Ould Abdallah’s visit to Mogadishu took place one day after the commemoration of International Peace Day, and he joined leaders of the TFIs in a tree-planting ceremony marking the occasion.

The envoy held a separate meeting with Ali Mahdi Mohamed, Chairman of the National Governance and Reconciliation Committee, to commend that body and the people of Somalia for the successful holding of the National Reconciliation Congress.

Mr. Ould Abdallah called for the full implementation of the Congress’s outcome and urged a broadening of the national reconciliation process. Toward that end, he encouraged Ali Mahdi Mohamed and his committee members to pursue their objectives “with the great vigour and commitment that they have already shown.”

Mr. Ould Abdallah, who was appointed Special Representative earlier this month, also held a separate meeting with the UN national staff on the ground to commend them for “their courage and outstanding job in the field” and called on them to continue working as a coherent team for the interest of the Somali people.

Held in Mogadishu during July and August, the Congress aimed to foster internal coherence in Somalia, which has had no functioning government since Muhammad Siad Barre’s regime was toppled in 1991.

Fighting makes Somalis fear more than ever-UN envoy

Sat. September 22, 2007 08:24 am.-
By Mohamed Abdi Farah

(SomaliNet) Somalis in the capital Mogadishu are more scared than ever of being targeted by the country's warring parties, who are recruiting children to fight in the conflict, a U.N. envoy said on Friday, Reuters reports.

"I think people are afraid in Mogadishu now more than any time before," said Ghanim Alnajjar, the U.N.-appointed independent human rights expert on Somalia.

Ethiopian soldiers are helping to bolster Somalia's transitional government -- the 14th attempt to reimpose central rule in 16 years -- against insurgents fighting what they see as an occupation by a longstanding rival.

"They're afraid of being killed, of being arrested by anybody, by so-called insurgents, by TFG (transitional federal government), by Ethiopian forces," he told a news conference in Nairobi after a brief trip to Somalia.

Alnajjar, a Kuwaiti academic, also said there were instances of indiscriminate shooting at civilians.

"And both parties using children in conflict -- that is also happening. I think all parties have to pay attention to international humanitarian law," he said without elaborating.

Alnajjar, who met President Abdullahi Yusuf and Prime Minister Ali Mohamd Gedi, said he was initially prevented from entering Somalia. He was told the refusal came from the Ethiopians, but said that was only a rumour.

Alnajjar said the government promised to investigate reports its troops had surrounded the independent media house Shabelle on Tuesday, opening fire on the building and wounding one guard.

"I got an answer which was mixed but I hope that it will be translated into action to stop these attacks," Alnajjar said.

"This is creating a situation of fear where people are afraid to express themselves freely. The prime minister promised to do his best and investigate the latest incident on Shabelle and I hope that he'll resolve this."

He said he had received reports of torture and secret prisons, but needed to verify such claims by some civilians who blame the allied Somali-Ethiopian troops.

"I don't make any charges but I have to verify that."

He praised Ugandan peacekeepers, the vanguard of an 8,000-strong African Union mission, for doing a "remarkable job".

"They are well-disciplined. They are at least showing something different to what people anticipated," he said.

Since arriving in March, the contingent of 1,600 Ugandans have won over some Somalis -- who are suspicious of foreigners -- by giving out water and drugs, destroying munitions and treating civilians free at their medical facilities.

Source: Reuters

Somaliland official says al Qaeda suspects arrested

Sat. September 22, 2007 06:55 pm.
By Mohamed Abdi Farah

(SomaliNet) Ethiopian troops arrested six men believed to be members of al Qaeda during a cross-border operation in the breakaway republic of Somaliland, a senior Somaliland official said on Saturday, Reuters reports.

There was no immediate word from Addis Ababa, which has sent thousands of soldiers to support an interim government in neighbouring Somalia threatened by Islamist-led insurgents.

The chairman of Somaliland's central region of Togdheer, Abdi Hussein Dere, told reporters Ethiopian forces entered the town of Buholde on Friday and occupied the main police station before arresting six Somalis in four vehicles.

"The cars were on their way to Mogadishu," Dere told a news conference. "After their arrest, I think Ethiopian informers told the troops the arrested men belonged to al Qaeda."

Somalia's interim administration often accuses foreign jihadists of working with local insurgents in the capital to carry out roadside bombings and assassinations that have targeted the government and its Ethiopian military allies.

In June, the U.S. military launched air strikes on the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, which borders Somaliland.

U.S. officials declined to comment on a CNN report that they were targeting a suspect in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 240 people.

The United States also launched air strikes in southern Somalia in January aimed at three top al Qaeda suspects but killed the suspects' allies instead, U.S. officials have said.

Source: Reuters

Somalia: Bomb attack wounds police officers

Sat. September 22, 2007 01:51 pm.
By Mohamed Abdi Farah

(SomaliNet) A remote controlled roadside bomb has exploded on the Wadnaha Street near Mogadishu’s main Bakara market on Saturday wounding five police officers, local official, and witnesses said.

The bomb went off as pick up truck carrying soldiers was passing the area causing the injuries of the police commanders of Howlwadag and Wardhigley neighborhoods and three of their bodyguards.

After the blast, the security forces of the nearby police station rushed to the area and arrested many bystanders.

The deputy police spokesman Abdulahi Shacshac confirmed the wounds of the police officers who were traveling on pick up truck that targeted by roadside bomb.

Three other civilians were reported to have wounded by the explosion.

Elsewhere near Bakara market, a bomb was thrown at the police force patrolling the area. One soldier and one civilian were confirmed wounded in the attack.

The latest bomb attack came as the spokesman for the new alliance for liberation Somalia said they began fighting against what he called ‘the occupation forces of Ethiopia and its puppet interim government’.

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