Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Somali News Bulletin: MP Assasasinated at Mosque; Off Shore Piracy Continues; US Accused of Involvement

Somali MP assassinated at mosque

Somali MP Mohamed Osman Maye has been shot dead outside a mosque in the town of Baidoa, the seat of parliament.

He was thought to have been an ally of President Abdullahi Yusuf.

He is the first MP to have been assassinated since Ethiopian forces helped the interim government oust Islamists from power in December 2006.

Meanwhile, Islamist militants who took over the port town of Kismayo last month have imposed a curfew following the assassination of several residents.

"The curfew started on Monday night and will go on until we secure the town," Abdurrahman Ali Mohamed, who is charge of security in the town, told BBC.

Insurgents of the al-Shabab group seized control of Kismayo in August after a three-day battle in which an estimated 70 civilians were killed.

The BBC's Mohamed Olad Hassan says Kismayo, Somalia's third city, is strategically important because it serves as a port for the south of the country.

He says it is the biggest city the Islamists have seized during their 20-month insurgency.

Al-Shabab, a radical wing of the Union of Islamic Courts which ruled much of southern Somalia in 2006, has refused to participate in a UN-backed peace initiative taking place in Djibouti.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced in fighting which has been worst in the capital, Mogadishu.

Earlier this week, Mr Maye gave a speech to parliament, expressing his concern about the worsening violence.

"He was shot in the head outside a mosque where he had attended evening prayers," MP Amir Shaketi told the AFP news agency.

Somalia has been without a functioning national government since 1991 and has suffered ongoing civil strife.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/09/10 09:02:12 GMT


A Somali Islamist leader urged international action Tuesday to curb piracy off the African country's coast in a key global commerce shipping lane.

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who heads the Alliance for Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) - an umbrella Somali opposition group - warned that piracy has become "more organised and dangerous."

"Those who carry out this filthy kidnapping of ships are on the ground and do not live in the sea. They must be brought to book and pirates must be eliminated," he told AFP in Nairobi.

Somali waters are the most dangerous in the world for pirate
attacks. The International Maritime Bureau reported more than 24 known attacks in the area between April and June and more have been committed in recent days.

Maritime experts say many attacks go unreported along Somalia's 3,700 kilometres (2,300 miles) of largely unpatrolled coast infested by pirates, who operate high-powered speedboats and carry heavy machine guns and rocket launchers.

"These nasty elements are driven by greed and the international community must help Somalia overcome this mayhem," Ahmed said.

Ahmed was head of Islamic Courts Union, which nearly curbed piracy when it seized much of the country from warlords in 2006, until the movement was ousted by Ethiopian forces early 2007 on claims it was linked to Al Qaeda.

"Maybe pirates think they are safe, but we know them: their names, where they stay and who funds them. One day they will answer for their actions," Ahmed said.

Somalia's current transitional government has failed to shackle the pirates who threaten the Gulf of Aden, a key commercial shipping lane.

The sea raids have forced the World Food Programme to suspend
shipments of humanitarian supplies without naval escort to Somalia where at least 2.6 million people face acute food shortages and the figure could rise to 3.5 by year-end.

"Millions of Somalis are in need of food aid, but gangs are
terrorising the aid community. Somalis must not be held hostage by a few groups," said Ahmed.

Pirates, who are currently holding more than seven ships and their crew off northern Somalia, demand millions of dollars in ransom.

In June, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution authorising foreign warships to enter Somalia's territorial waters with the government's consent to combat pirates and armed robbery at sea, but it is yet to be implemented.

In recent months, a multinational taskforce based in Djibouti has been patrolling parts of the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, where a pirate mothership is believed to be operating.

Some Somali pirates saying that in the absence of a functional government, they are battling illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic waste by European and Asian countries.

Somalia plunged into a civil war after the 1991 ouster of president Mohamed Siad Barre, setting off a deadly power struggle that has defied numerous attempts to restore a functional government.

Somalia: Islamic militants impose curfew in Kismayo

Wed. September 10, 2008 06:12 am.
By Bonny Apunyu

(SomaliNet) Islamic militants who seized control of Kismayo, Somalia's third largest city last month have imposed a curfew there, an official said on Tuesday.

The 9pm to 6am curfew is designed to ensure the southern port city of Kismayo is secure, Abdurrahman Ali Mohamed, who is in charge of Kismayo's security, said.

However, it also appeared to be a show of strength by the militant movement, which is trying to topple the nation's fragile government.

"The curfew started on Monday night and will go on until we secure the town," said Mohamed.

In Mogadishu, the capital of the Horn of Africa nation, Reconciliation Minister Abdirisaq Hassan Ashkir dismissed the curfew, describing it as an "oppression".

"I am confident that their dream will only last a short time," said Ashkir, referring to the Islamic militants' recent takeover of Kismayo.

In August, the Islamic militants seized control of Kismayo after a three-day battle during which 70 civilians were reported killed.

Nearly two years ago, the Islamic courts movement launched an insurgency in this impoverished country, but Kismayo is the biggest city it has seized since early 2007.

The militants lost control of the capital and much of southern Somalia in December 2006, when Ethiopian troops, backing Somali soldiers, ousted them. - Sapa-AP

Clan elders accuse Ethiopian troops of "massacres" in southwestern Somalia

Posted: 9/7/2008 11:58:00 AM

Digil and Mirifle clan elders condemned Friday's incident in which Ethiopian troops killed civilians in Berdale, southwestern Somalia.

The council of Digil and Mirifle traditional elders spoke on yesterday's fighting in Bardale between the Ethiopian military and forces loyal to the Union of Islamic courts (UIC) during a meeting in their offices in Baidoa, Bay Region.

The elders condemned the Ethiopian troops for massacring civilians on the outskirts of Bardaale yesterday following fierce clashes with groups opposed to their presence in Somalia.

A spokesman for the Digil and Mirifle traditional elders, Hussein Yaqub, termed the killing of civilians by the Ethiopian troops as a massacre and said it was unacceptable.

The elders made the statement after they held a meeting in their offices during which they discussed yesterday's fighting between Ethiopian troops and opposition groups.

The meeting is said to have lasted hours.

The clan elders also spoke on reconciliation efforts and said they welcome the ongoing peace process and hope it will provide a lasting solution to the conflict in Somalia.

Shabelle Media Network

Puntland accuses US of pirates backing, after pirates’ release

Posted: 9/8/2008 4:52:00 PM

After a US ship who seized 14 pirates released them, Puntland administration has charged US troops of propping up the pirates’ official said.

Abdulqadir Muse Yusuf, fisheries minister for the semi-autonomous region told Shabelle that they (Puntland) are remorseful on the release of the pirates by US troops who captured them on Sunday.

“It’s the second time they captured them and freed the pirates, that is objectionable” Yusuf said.

He added that the seized pirates were the kidnappers of an Iranian ship who are being held in Eyl.

“Puntland is incapable to contend with the well-equipped pirates” he said.

Puntland’s grumbles against the US following suspected warship has captured and released 14 pirates on Puntland coast.

An unidentified warship off pirate-ridden Somali waters captured 14 pirates and destroyed their boat, on Sunday.

Mr. Yusuf, said the pirate vessel met a warship "that we think could be American" and all the pirates on board were captured and their boat destroyed.

However, the U.S. Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, said there was no American involvement in the operation.

Yusuf said local authorities were still investigating the identity of the warship."

Two French nationals were seized in their yacht in the perilous waters on Tuesday and the French navy has said it is ready to try to free them, although their safety came first.

The two captives were safe in a hill village 750 km (465 miles) east of Bosasso, Puntland's capital, a man who said he was the pirates' servant told Reuters on Sunday.

"The French tourists, whose boat was also hijacked, are now held inside the hilly areas of Habo village. They are safe and healthy," Abdinur Farah told Reuters from the deck of a seized Iranian ship.

He said the Iranian ship with 28 crew members including two Russians, two Pakistanis and a Syrian would soon be freed once the $2 million ransom agreed upon was paid.

"The bargaining about the ransom is over and pirates are just waiting for the money," he said.

"Puntland requested the pirates two weeks ago to hand over this Iranian ship, saying that it is carrying weapons to Eritrea. I have seen food and other odd items on the ship but I do not know what is hidden underneath."


Somali gunmen are holding more than 10 ships for ransom at Eyl, a lawless former fishing outpost now used by gangs behind a sharp rise in sea attacks.

The hijackings have become commonplace, especially in Puntland. However, pirates often treat hostages well in the hope of hefty ransoms. Most captured ships bring ransoms of more than $10,000 and in a few cases much more.

The gunmen in Eyl are also demanding a ransom of more than $9 million to free two Malaysian tankers, a Japanese-managed bulk carrier and a Nigerian tug boat.

The pirates are currently holding over 130 crew members.

Attacks at sea have boomed as lawlessness increased in Somalia, where there has not been a working government since warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Since the start of last year, more than 8,000 civilians have been killed in fighting between allied Somali government and Ethiopian soldiers and Islamist rebels. Another 1 million have been driven from their homes.

The chaos in Somalia has also made the Horn of Africa a dangerous place for aid workers or foreigners. Two journalists, Canadian Amanda Lindhout and Nigel Brennan, an Australian freelance photojournalist, were kidnapped last month.

Shabelle Media Network

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