Friday, August 21, 2009

Somalia News Update: Dozens Killed in Mogadishu Fighting

Friday, August 21, 2009
21:03 Mecca time, 18:03 GMT

Dozens killed in Mogadishu fighting

Residents said most of the 62 people killed in the clashes were civilians

At least 24 people have been killed in the Somali capital of Mogadishu after Islamist rebels fought Somali government and African Union troops for a second day.

Residents hid in their homes as mortar bombs fired by fighters from al-Shabab, the group battling to remove the government, hit the city on Friday.

Six people died when mortars exploded as traders were setting up their stalls in a market.

Another 18 corpses were recovered after the attacks, ambulance staff said.

"Hundreds of well-armed insurgents came to our district with minibuses and pick-up trucks and immediately they started firing towards the government troops and an African Union base," Mogadishu resident Abdi Haji Ahmed said.

"We have been ducking under our concrete balcony for hours."

Another resident said: "We did not sleep since yesterday because of the huge numbers of shells targeting this neighborhood. We call upon God to end our ordeals."

Rebels 'provoked'

Al-Shabab spokesman Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage said his forces retaliated against the African Union troops for earlier rolling into rebel-controlled areas.

"They provoked us by coming into our areas, so we have a right to attack them in their bases," Rage said.

The government and African Union had no immediate comment.

The attacks came a day after 40 people, mostly civilians, died as the two sides sought to gain ground in strategic towns.

Violence and anarchy

The fighting began on Thursday in Bula Burte, about 210km north of the capital, when government soldiers moved into the town controlled by al-Shabab.

The US says al-Shabab, which is fighting to remove the current transitional federal government and impose sharia, or Islamic law, has ties to al-Qaeda, a claim the group denies.

About 4,000 African Union peace keepers from Burundi and Uganda are stationed in Mogadishu to protect government installations.

They have occasionally clashed with al-Shabab fighters as they try to ward of the fighters' advance.

Somalia has been ravaged by violence and anarchy since warlords overthrew Mohamed Siad Barre, a former dictator, in 1991, before turning on each other.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Somalia: 31 dead in Mogadishu battles and bombs

21 Aug 21, 2009 - 10:38:41 AM

MOGADISHU, Somalia Aug 21 (Garowe Online) - At least 31 people were killed and over 100 others wounded in a series of street battles and bombardment in the Somali capital Mogadishu since Thursday night, Radio Garowe reports.

The violence continued into Friday morning, after suspected insurgents attacked Somali government forces and African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) based around Mogadishu's KM4 square.

"Many shells hit Bakara Market and I saw 12 dead bodies, who died inside a restaurant," said a witness at Mogadishu's Bakara, the country's largest marketplace and a notorious stronghold for insurgents.

The dead bodies of three insurgent fighters were displayed by government soldiers at Taleh intersection in Hodan district, witnesses said.

Medical sources throughout Mogadishu's hospitals and clinics reported that more than 120 wounded persons were admitted since last night.

The eruption of renewed hostilities in Mogadishu comes days after the Somali federal parliament approved the government's request to enact a state of emergency across the country.

Separately, fighting in other regions of south-central Somalia continued between insurgent groups, like Al Shabaab, and government forces and their allies, including the Ethiopian-backed Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamee'a faction.

Hardliners like Al Shabaab and another faction, Hizbul Islam, control large sections of Mogadishu and other regions of south-central Somalia.

Source: Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia Aug 21 (Garowe Online)

Somalia: Unrest prevails in Hiran region

21 Aug 21, 2009 - 11:07:10 AM

BELETWEIN, Somalia Aug 21 (Garowe Online) - Unrest continues in Somalia's central Hiran region as government forces and insurgent factions seek to outmaneuver each other for control of the region, Radio Garowe reports.

On Friday, there were reports of fighting in Mahas district between the pro-government Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamee'a militia and Al Shabaab insurgents.

There were no reports of casualties available and conflicting reports are emerging from the district, according to the Radio Garowe correspondent in Beletwein, the provincial capital of Hiran region.

Some reports say Ahlu Sunnah fighters attacked Mahas district and kicked out Al Shabaab. But other reports say Ahlu Sunnah's attack was repulsed and Al Shabaab remain in control of Mahas.

All communications to Mahas are currently cut off, making it difficult to confirm facts.

Meanwhile, Somali government forces who launched an offensive yesterday to take control of Bulo Burte district from the insurgent's control have returned to Beletwein. At least six people were killed during yesterday's battle.

It is not clear why the government forces returned, but insurgent fighters seized control of west Beletwein yesterday as fighting erupted in Bulo Burte.

Also Friday, Ethiopian soldiers briefly entered Beletwein but withdrew to the outskirts of town after staying only a few hours.

Locals said the insurgents who seized west Beletwein fled away and now all of Beletwein is under the control of government forces, but there were reports of skirmishes on the western outskirts of town.

Separately, six gunmen used pistols to target and kill four civilians inside Beletwein today. Among the dead was a local trader who tried to stop the killers from taking the life of a religious man. Both men were shot and killed.

It is not clear why the four civilians were targeted. Last night, a well-known Islamic preacher was killed in Beletwein by two gunmen, who escaped.

Somalia's UN-recognized transitional federal government is struggling to end an insurgency that began in early 2007.

Source: Garowe Online

Somalia: Opposition parties rally in Somaliland, Ethiopia official visits

20 Aug 20, 2009 - 5:19:34 PM

HARGEISA, Somalia Aug 20 (Garowe Online) -Opposition parties in Somalia's breakaway republic of Somaliland held rallies Thursday, a day after a visiting Ethiopian government delegation arrived, Radio Garowe reports.

Somaliland President Dahir Riyale met with Dr. Tekede Elemu, Ethiopia's state minister for foreign affairs, at the presidential compound in Hargeisa.

Ethiopian officials in Hargeisa

According to a press release from the president's office, discussions among the officials included continuing cooperation in security and trade matters.

"The two parties [also] discussed political matters, especially the presidential election [in Somaliland]," read the press release, issued by President Riyale's office.

Dr. Elemu arrived yesterday from Addis Ababa for a three-day visit to Hargeisa for talks with Somaliland officials. He was welcomed at Egal International Airport by Somaliland's foreign minister, Mr. Abdullahi Mohamed Du'ale.

Opposition rallies

In Hargeisa, on Thursday, hundreds of opposition supporters took to the streets to demonstrate against President Riyale's government ahead of the presidential election.

The opposition parties, Kulmiye and UCID, jointly organized the protest in Hargeisa, as hundreds of protestors walked the streets and attempted to gather at Liberty Garden.

Hargeisa protest

But Somaliland security forces had cordoned off Liberty Guard from the protestors. Even more soldiers guarded the street in front of the president's office.

Mr. Faisal Ali Warabe, chairman of UCID party and a presidential candidate, expressed frustration with the Somaliland government's decision to block off Liberty Garden. He stood among the protestors speaking on a bullhorn, as soldiers nearby watched.

Kulmiye party's deputy chairman, Muse Bihi, said the demonstrations shows the public's feeling towards the presidential election and "the need for change."

Somaliland's election crisis started in mid-2008 when President Riyale's administration received a one-year term extension, which opposition parties said was unconstitutional.

The subsequent dispute was resolved, but Riyale received another controversial six-month extension earlier this year, angering opposition parties and triggering protests in Hargeisa.

President Riyale has vowed to hold the presidential election on time on September 27, despite the opposition's demands that the voter-registration data be used in the election.

The government has rejected the opposition's demands, arguing that the voter data is flawed.

Somaliland is located in northwest Somalia. The region unilaterally declared independence from the rest of the Horn of Africa country in 1991, but has not been recognized internationally.

Source: Garowe Online

A Cabinet Reshuffle, a “Hargeysa Star” demoted: A BBC Kerfuffle

By Said Shiiq, PhD
Friday, August 21, 2009

Through a highly orchestrated “scoop” by the BBC Somali Service, we learned this week that the prime minister of Somalia has decided to reshuffle his cabinet. Ostensibly “demoted” are the former foreign minister, Mohamed Abdillahi Omaar and the former defense minister, Mohamed Abdi Gandi. They were replaced with probably more experienced colleagues who, unsurprisingly, hail from their respective clans.

Yet one man gleaned---rather doctored something no else has: that the “Hargeysa star” in the cabinet was demoted unceremoniously in lieu of a man from Puntland: Ahmed Jama Jangali. The spin doctor, as you guessed by now, is Yusuf Garaad Omar, the “star” head of the BBC Somali Service.

This former journalist-turned-maniac-politician, who mastered the art of deceptive journalism, has once again revved up his combustible energy to destroy whatever is left of our nationhood. On August 17, he wrote a profoundly dramatized piece in which he packaged as a rare capacity for gleaning information to let the unsuspecting audiences of Somalia know that a cabinet reshuffle is in the works.

To be fair, the very act of gleaning “scoops” and airing them is perfectly legitimate, and is journalistically admirable. But that was only part of Yusuf Garaad’s objectives. He inserted this interesting bit of information on paragraph seven:

“Maxamed Cabdullaahi Oomaar oo ahaa xiddigga cusub oo dowladda uga soo biiray Hargeysa ayaa isaga la sheegay in loo magacaabay Wasiirka Macdanta iyo Biyaha.” [emphasis/italics mine].

One only wonders why would Hon. Omaar be “xiddigga….Hargeysa” (the Hargeysa star) when he is a proud Somali citizen? Is there an implication that Mr. Omaar is, for some reason, a super citizen?

It’s as if I said: “President Sharif is the new star from Mogadishu and/or Jowhar,” when I really mean to say his clan.

Having been monitoring Yusuf Garaad for a very long time, I only arrived at one conclusion: that he intended to stoke a conflict between the TFG and Puntland on one side, and Somaliland on another. Because he failed to win any tangible votes for his own bid for the presidency, Yusuf Garaad has been on a mission to destroy the symbols of governance through his powerful mouthpiece: the almighty BBC.

Alas, this whole episode further plunges the once reputable BBC Somali Service into a new low. Thankfully, we have a formidable alternative with the VOA Somalia Service.
Said Shiiq, PhD is senior consultant with international aid organizations on governance, peace and security. He can be reached at

Ethiopian troops reach in Beledweyn town

Posted: 8/20/2009 3:41:00 PM
Shabelle: SOMALIA

BALADWEYN (Sh. M. Network) – More Ethiopian troops have reached Beledweyn town in Hiran region in central Somalia, just as heavy fighting is continuing in parts of the region, witnesses told Shabelle radio on Thursday.

Reports from the town say that the Ethiopian troops with many battle wagons poured into the town hours ago and made military bases in the street that connects between Ugas Qalif international airport and Harar valley in the town.

There is no comment from the transitional government officials regarding the arrival of the Ethiopian troops in Beled Weyn town and reports say that there are no officials who met with the Ethiopian officials in the town.

On the other hand more residents in Bula Burde district in Hiran region, just as there is bitter fighting between Harakat Al-shabab Mujahideen and government soldiers there.

Locals say that there are casualties of deaths and injuries but is too difficult to be confirmed as the people in the region expressed concern about the fighting.

We shall keep updating you for further details.

Harakat Al-shabab Mujahideen forces take over parts of Beledweyn town

Posted: 8/20/2009 4:54:00 PM
Shabelle: SOMALIA

BALADWEYN (Sh. M. Network) - forces loyal to Harakat Al-shabab Mujahideen have taken over the control of parts of Beledweyn town in Hiran region, just as bitter fighting continues in Bula burde district in the region, witnesses told Shabelelle radio on Thursday.

Reports say that fighters of Harakat Al-shabab Mujahideen captured Hawl-wadag neighborhood in the town hours ago as sporadic fighting between both sides continued Thursday.

It is unclear the real casualties of the fighting as more of the Islamist forces entered to parts of Halwadag neighborhood in the town in central Somalia.

Residents expressed concern about the fighting as the business movement of the town was halted due to the clashes between the transitional government troops and Islamists in the town.

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

By: Hassan Osman Fantastic
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Djibouti to deploy troops in Somalia

Posted: 8/15/2009 5:20:00 PM
Shabelle: SOMALIA

DJIBOUTI (Sh. M. Network) - Djibouti soldiers will soon join their Ugandan and Burundian counterparts on the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

Djibouti’s foreign affairs minister Mahomoud Ali Youssouf was in Kampala this week to discuss the arrangements with his Ugandan counterpart, Sam Kutesa.

The ministry’s spokesperson, Sam Guma, on Thursday said Djibouti agreed to send troops but did not commit herself to the numbers.

“The ministers explored the possibility of Djibouti contributing towards supporting the Ugandan and Burundian troops that are already keeping peace in Somalia,” he said.

There are 4,300 peace-keepers in Somalia, of whom 2,700 are Ugandan.

The Uganda Government has continuously called upon other AU members to deploy in Somalia.

Uganda is in Somalia on behalf of the AU and the United Nations Security Council, on a peacekeeping mission.

Kutesa said without control of Somalia, extremists would traffic arms through the country, threatening the region’s stability.

Sources: New Vision

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