Thursday, July 23, 2009

Somalia News Update: Fresh Fighting Starts in Central Region

Fresh fighting starts in central Somalia

Posted: 7/23/2009 9:58:00 PM
Shabelle: SOMALIA

ELBUR ( Sh. M. Network ) - Fresh fighting between forces loyal to Harakat Al-shabab Mujahideen and Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a has started in Warholo village in Galgudud region in central Somalia, witnesses told Shabelle radio on Thursday.

Reports from Wabho town near where the clashes started say that the fighting is currently going on there as both sides are exchanging heavy gunfire in the battle.

No real casualties have so far been reported as the residents expressed concern about the fighting between the Islamist forces of Harakat Al-shabab Mujahideen and Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a.

Officials of Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a organisation said that the fighting started as their base in Warholo attacked adding that there were some simple injuries on their side.

There is no comment from the other side of the fighting yet and the fighting comes as heavy fighting between both sides happened in Mahas district in Hiran region on Wednesday.

We shall keep updating you for any further details about the news as soon as possible.

Somalia: 16 die as insurgents battle government and African Union peacekeepers

July, 23, 2009 - 06:43 am THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Somali Islamist militants carry weapons as they patrol the streets of northern Mogadishu

MOGADISHU, Somalia - A Somali official and witnesses say insurgents have attacked government soldiers and African Union peacekeeping forces in southern Mogadishu in fighting that killed 16 people.

Wednesday night's attack was unusual because most recent fighting in the capital has occurred in northern Mogadishu.

Somali army spokesman Farhan Asanyo said Thursday that three government soldiers were among the dead. Witnesses said 13 other people died, including a 5-year-old boy and his mother, and at least three insurgents.

Asanyo says hundreds of heavily armed Islamist fighters attacked government bases and the peacekeepers. Witnesses said residential neighbourhoods were pounded with mortars and shells for 10 hours.

EU anti-piracy force to move some planes south to counter spread of Somali pirates

July, 23, 2009 - 06:49 am THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Britain's Rear Admiral Peter Hudson is commander of the European Unions anti-piracy force. The European Union's anti-piracy force will relocate some surveillance aircraft further south to help counter the spread of Somali pirates into Indian Ocean waters, the force's operation commander said.

NAIROBI, Kenya - The head of the European Union's anti-piracy force says he will move some air assets south to help counter the spread of Somali pirates to the Indian Ocean.

Rear Adm. Peter Hudson says stationing aircraft further south in Kenya will help surveillance when the monsoon period ends in four to six weeks time and pirate attacks are expected to sharply increase.

The pirates expanded their range hundreds of miles south of Somalia last year, partly in reaction to the increased naval presence on the Gulf of Aden. There are currently around 30 warships in the Gulf and many manned and unmanned aircraft on surveillance missions.

Kenyan military spokesman Bogita Ongeri said Thursday that Kenya is eager to help stop piracy.

NATO, Russia consider ways to boost cooperation

Wed Jul 22, 2009 1:38 PM EDT
Slobodan Lekic, Associated Press Writer

BRUSSELS — Diplomats from NATO and Russia met on Wednesday to discuss ways of cooperating in the battle against pirates off Somalia and supplying alliance forces fighting in Afghanistan.

Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said Russia wanted to set up an international criminal court to try captured Somali pirates, rather than prosecuting them in local courts in countries such as Kenya.

He said he also proposed setting up coordinated patrols by Russian and NATO warships in the Gulf of Aden, improving liaisons between them and instituting joint training for crews involved in the effort to stamp out pirate attacks on merchant shipping.

Pirate attacks worldwide more than doubled in the first half of 2009 amid a surge of raids on vessels in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia, an international maritime watchdog said last week.

Wednesday's one-day meeting in Brussels was the latest sign of improving relations between the West and Russia.

Ties between NATO and the Russian military were frozen after the five-day Georgian war last August. But last month, foreign ministers from NATO's 28 nations and Russia agreed to normalize ties and resume military cooperation.

On Wednesday, the NATO-Russia Council — a panel set up in 2002 to improve ties between the former Cold War rivals — also discussed combatting drug smuggling from Afghanistan into Central Asia, NATO spokesman James Appathurai said.

"There was a shared desire to strengthen the NATO-Russia Council by focusing on practical issues," Appathurai said.

The issue of overland transit for NATO's military supplies to Afghanistan through Russia and the Central Asian states also was discussed, he said. NATO recently reached agreements with Russia and Uzbekistan for the transport by rail of equipment and supplies, but has yet to do the same with Kazakhstan before regular deliveries can begin.

NATO commanders have been pushing for transshipments of military supplies to the rapidly expanding international force in Afghanistan because the normal supply route to the landlocked nation through Pakistan has come under repeated Taliban attack.

Vladimir Nazarov, the deputy head of Russia's Security Council, briefed the 28 NATO ambassadors about Russia's new national security strategy, which is sharply critical of the alliance's eastward expansion.

"We were asked by our partners to explain why we see the approach of NATO's military infrastructure to our borders as a threat," Nazarov said.

The U.S. has pledged to support NATO membership countries such as Georgia and Ukraine, but Germany and other European member states are skeptical.

SOMALIA: UN suspends operations in Baidoa, compounds looted

NAIROBI, 21 July 2009 (IRIN) - The UN has suspended humanitarian operations in Somalia's southwestern town of Baidoa following the looting of its compound there, an official told IRIN on 21 July.

"We are still assessing the longer-term implications of the [militia] statements and actions and we are trying to re-engage but we have temporarily suspended humanitarian operations in Baidoa as our radio equipment was looted," Rozanne Chorlston, the acting UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, said.

Members of the Islamist Al-Shabab militia group, which has been fighting government troops in the capital, Mogadishu, looted equipment and vehicles from the UN compound in Baidoa on 20 July and also raided the UN office in Wajid, 340km northwest of the capital.

Baidoa is the seat of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) led by Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who was elected president in February at a parliamentary meeting in Djibouti. Al-Shabab has since waged a war against the government, resulting in hundreds of civilian deaths and the displacement of hundreds of thousands more.

After the looting of the UN compounds, Al-Shabab broadcast a message on local Somali radio, calling for the closure of the offices of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Political Office in Somalia (UNPOS) and the UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS), which it said supported the TFG and the African Union Mission in the country (AMISOM).

In a statement issued on 20 July, Bénédicte Walter, the UN spokesperson, said: "In Baidoa, the looting of all emergency communication equipment and the lack of security officers makes it impossible for the UN as a whole to continue its operations. We deeply regret having to relocate staff and temporarily suspend our operations in Baidoa. We are expecting authorities to reconsider these decisions and allow us to address the critical humanitarian situation in Baidoa and its region."

Walter said operations in Wajid, "where the minimum security conditions are unchanged", will continue.

"Al-Shabab members visited the WFP [World Food Programme] compound in Wajid for a meeting. They took away two cars and some furniture that were not WFP property," the statement read.

Walter said the UN was optimistic that minimal conditions on the ground would be restored to allow the critical humanitarian work to resume in Baidoa and continue elsewhere in Somalia.

Somalis charged with hijacking

Posted: 7/23/2009 5:21:00 PM
Shabelle: SOMALIA

SANA (Sh. M. Network ) -Twelve suspected Somali pirates have been charged with hijacking a Yemeni oil tanker earlier this year, according to Yemeni authorities.

The suspects were seized when Yemeni forces retook control of the vessel, which had been attacked while sailing from the port of Mukalla to Aden.

One of the tanker's crew was killed during the hijacking and a second remains missing.

The Somalis are the latest suspected pirates to face justice in Yemen.

Earlier this month, 22 Somalis went on trial after being handed over to Yemen by international naval forces.

Many other countries have been reluctant to put Somali pirates on trial because of the legal complexities involved.

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