Sunday, September 13, 2009

Somalia News Update: More Britons Travel for Jihad; Hospital Hit in Attack

More Britons travel to Somalia for 'jihad': report

Sat Sep 12, 10:20 pm ET

LONDON (AFP) – Intelligence chiefs have warned British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government that Somalia is the next challenge in efforts to stem Islamic terrorism, a report said Sunday.

The officials have warned that the number of young Britons travelling to Somalia to fight in the war-torn country or take part in "terror training camps" is rising, the Independent on Sunday said, citing unnamed sources.

In particular, they are concerned about the number of people with no direct family connection to Somalia who are travelling there.

The number travelling there every year has more than quadrupled to at least 100 since 2004, according to the newspaper.

"I have seen figures that are not in the public domain that suggest there is an increasing flow of young Britons into Somalia," said opposition Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, chairman of the counter-terrorism subcommittee.

"There is now a mixture of British people, from numerous backgrounds, who are heading out there and that is causing great concern."

The Shebab, an Al-Qaeda inspired movement, is spearheading a three-month-old offensive to topple Somalia's President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and has imposed strict Sharia law in areas under its control.

The US has expressed fear that the Shebab would turn Somalia into an extremist haven similar to the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan -- which has been a top priority for the Barack Obama administration.

Food insecurity in Somalia expected to worsen in coming months, UN warns

11 September 2009 –Food insecurity is expected to get worse for the remainder of this year in some drought-affected regions of Somalia, according the latest update from the United Nations humanitarian arm.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that income and food sources for poor urban households in the drought-affected regions of Hiraan, Galgaduud, Mudug, Nugaal, Sool, Sanaag, and Togdheer are strongly linked to livestock markets and trade, which are seriously affected by the drought.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) is prioritizing life-saving interventions such as targeted supplementary feeding programmes for many affected people.

However, due to the precarious food aid pipeline, the agency will have to phase out support to maternal and child health nutrition programmes in 12 centres in three of Somalia’s regions.

Last week WFP called on donors to help avert a looming humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia, where half the population – or some 3.8 million people – are in need of assistance.

It has urgently appealed for 217,000 metric tons of food, worth over $200 million, to feed 3.5 million people by the end of October when stocks will run-out.

Saturday, September 12, 2009
22:10 Mecca time, 19:10 GMT

Disabled die in Somali mortar raid

At least 12 former soldiers were killed in the shelling

Disabled veterans are among 15 people killed after mortar rockets fired by fighters in Somalia hit a war veterans' hospital.

The shells fired by opposition fighters missed their intended target in Mogadishu, the capital, and hit a residential area containing the hospital, Somali officials said on Saturday.

"I was sitting in my wheelchair about 10 metres away from my friends when a mortar exploded and smoke and dust covered us all," Mohamed Abdi, 50, a paralysed ex-soldier said.

"I saw my friends on the ground, with blood scattered everywhere like slaughtered goats."

Three civilians also died and 15 other veterans were wounded in the attack on Friday.

The mortars were believed to have been fired towards Mogadishu's port but landed in the residential area by mistake, officials said.

Disabled die in Somali raid

Former army officers paralysed or missing limbs from the country's 1977 war with Ethiopia resided in the hospital, said Shiek Abdirisaq Oeylow, a government spokesman.

Somalia has suffered civil war for the past 18 years and African Union peacekeepers are currently in the country aiming to back the government of Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.

The government holds only a few areas of Mogadishu and al-Shabab, an opposition group, is attempting to overthrow them with the suspected help of foreign fighters.

The US has accused al-Shabab of having links with al-Qaeda, which al-Sahbab denies.

Source: Agencies

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