Thursday, June 12, 2008

Somalia News Update: Five Dead in Airport Shelling; 9 Killed in Fighting; 3.5 Million in Need of Assistance

Five dead in Somalia airport shelling as president flies out

At least five civilians died Thursday when Islamic insurgents attacked government soldiers near Mogadishu airport just minutes after Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed took off, residents and officials said.

At least five civilians died Thursday when Islamic insurgents attacked government soldiers near Mogadishu airport just minutes after Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed took off, residents and officials said.

Heavy fighting followed the shelling, with Somali soldiers backed by Ugandan peacekeepers beating off the attack, witnesses said.

'Three people including a child died instantly after mortar shells landed in our village,' Muhubo Isse, a resident in the area, told DPA.

Hospital officials said five people had been brought in after the attack.

Major Bariyge Bahulko, a spokesman for the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, confirmed the mortar attack on the airport, but denied that Ugandan troops took part in the fighting.

The attack came just days after the Somali government and some opposition figures signed a United Nations-brokered peace deal in neighbouring Djibouti.

The deal calls for a cessation of hostilities within 30 days, but the insurgents fighting the government have not signed up.

A similar attack took place at the start of June as Yusuf flew to Djibouti to meet UN officials there to back the peace talks.

The Horn of Africa nation has been in a state of anarchy since the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Fighting has intensified since transitional federal government troops and their Ethiopian allies wrested control of the capital Mogadishu from the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC).

The UIC brought relative order and curbed piracy during its six months in control in 2006.

Al-Shabaab, the UIC's armed wing, has been waging a guerrilla war ever since and hundreds of thousands have fled the vicious fighting in Modagishu to live in makeshift camps.

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Somalia: Somali Insurgents kill 9 after rejecting peace deal-witnesses

Wed. June 11, 2008 09:16 am.
By Bonny Apunyu

(SomaliNet) Hours after rejecting a U.N.-brokered peace deal for the Horn of Africa nation, Somali insurgents killed five officers and one civilian in an attack on a Mogadishu police base, witnesses said.

Sources say that attack, and two other insurgent killings in Baidoa and Mogadishu, brought to about 40 the number killed in an increase in fighting since the weekend between allied Ethiopian-Somali security forces and Islamist-led insurgents.

Five bodies lay in the street after insurgents opened fire on Tuesday night at a police base -- a typical attack in an Iraq-style campaign of hit-and-run raids, bombs and assassinations, witnesses said.

Somali Police confirmed the other fatality in that incident.

The attack came after Islamist hardliners Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys and Sheik Hassan Abdullah Hersi al-Turki -- who are both on U.S. and U.N. lists of al Qaeda associates -- rejected a peace deal signed in Djibouti.

Under U.N. mediation, the pact was agreed by representatives of Somalia's government and some members of the exiled opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) late on Monday.

But with militant ARS members, and insurgents on the ground, scoffing at the deal, analysts say it will have negligible impact on the fighting on the ground.

Aweys and Turki both encouraged insurgents to keep attacking the government and its Ethiopian military allies.

Witness Hawa Farah said insurgents also killed a policeman and a taxi-driver in the provincial town of Baidoa, where Somalia's parliament sits, on Tuesday night. "They came from an alley and fired at the taxi."

And in Mogadishu, suspected insurgents shot dead a tax-collector on Tuesday night, residents said. Reuters

Somalia: 3.5 million Somalis will need humanitarian aid this year –UN official

Wed. June 11, 2008 04:15 am.
By Bonny Apunyu

(SomaliNet) A United Nations spokeswoman has warned that up to 3.5 million Somalis will need humanitarian aid this year if the situation in the war-wracked east African nation fails to improve.

Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said: "The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate in Somalia. The situation is serious."

Already 2.5 million, or 35 percent, of the population need assistance.

"If the situation does not improve, we would have 3.5 million people who would need assistance by year end," said Byrs.

Some hundreds of thousands of Somalis have been displaced by armed conflict between the government forces backed by Ethiopian troops and Islamist fighters.

Byrs noted that some 6,500 civilians have been killed since 2007.

She also said that "all of the UN condemns" the recent murder of Somali journalist Nasteh Dahir Farah, who was working for the BBC and the Associated Press.

UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden in a statement paid tribute to the "dedication and courage of journalists such as Mr Farah, that despite the fact that members of the media are frequently targeted, harassed, arrested and killed in Somalia, he continued his work".Nine journalists have been killed in Somalia since 2007.-The Times

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