Al-Shabaab Attacks US Base, EU Convoy In Somalia

Somalia Election: Mohamed Abdullahi Emerges As President

 

The Al-Shabaab militant group claimed responsibility for an attack on a US base in Somalia on Monday, as the European Union confirmed a separate strike against a convoy of Italian advisers.

The militants struck the US base at Baledogle, about 110 kilometres (70 miles) northwest of the capital Mogadishu, with explosives before gunmen opened fire on the compound.

In a statement, Al-Shabaab said: “In the early hours of Monday morning, an elite unit of soldiers… launched a daring raid on the US military base”.

“After breaching the perimeters of the heavily fortified base, the Mujahideen (holy fighters) stormed the military complex, engaging the crusaders in an intense firefight.”

The Shabaab claimed they had killed dozens in the attack, however the US Mission to Somalia and a Somali military official said there were no casualties.

“We already had the information about the attackers and simply repelled them before they reached our defence barriers. There was no casualty inflicted on our soldiers or on the US soldiers in the base,” the military official said on condition of anonymity.

Witnesses in the Baledogle area said that a heavy exchange of gunfire after the initial explosion had ended.

“We cannot hear any fighting for some hours now but… the whole area around the base is being patrolled by American military helicopters,” said Abdullahi Osman, a witness.

The US Mission to Somalia denied Al-Shabaab fighters penetrated the camp’s defences, saying that Somali security forces repelled the attack.

“The security forces stopped this ultimately failed attack due to their alertness and swift response, not allowing the attackers to breach the outer defensive perimeters of the base,” the mission said in a statement.

“We are thankful that there were no SNA (Somali National Army) casualties between the multiple attacks.”

Baledogle is a major launching site for US drone operations against Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda-linked group which controls large parts of Somalia, and the Islamic State in Somalia outfit.

“Two heavy explosions occurred, the first one bigger than the other. There was also a heavy exchange of gunfire after the blasts but we don’t know about the details,” Mohamed Adan, a Somali elder close to the scene of the attack, told AFP by phone.

Car bomb hits convoy 

In a separate incident on Monday, a security official said EU advisers training the Somali National Army were attacked by a car bomb in Mogadishu.

“There was a car bomb targeting the EU military advisors along the industrial road. A vehicle loaded with explosives was rammed into one of the convoy vehicles,” said Omar Abikar, a Somali security officer.

A statement from the EU Training Mission in Somalia confirmed the convoy had been “hit by an explosion” while returning from the army headquarters.

“No EUTM-S soldiers were injured in the explosion. Two vehicles sustained damage,” read the statement.

The mission offers military advice and provides training to Somalia’s army, still propped up by some 20,000 African peacekeepers as the country recovers from decades of civil war and an Islamist insurgency.

Italy’s defence ministry confirmed that two armoured vehicles in an Italian convoy “were involved in an explosion,” adding that so far “there have been no consequences for Italian soldiers”.

SITE Intelligence, which monitors jihadist activities worldwide, said Al-Shabaab had claimed responsibility for both attacks.

The US Africa Command, AFRICOM, said in a brief statement emailed to AFP that it was “monitoring the situation. We are working to confirm details on the incident.”

Baledogle is a Soviet-built base which, despite secrecy surrounding US operations in Somalia, has emerged as one of the bases from where they carry out their strikes.

US strikes in Somalia surged in April 2017, after President Donald Trump declared the south of the country an “area of active hostilities”. The rate of air strikes has risen sharply this year.

In an April statement AFRICOM said it had killed more than 800 people in 110 air strikes in Somalia since April 2017.

Monday’s attacks are the latest in a long line of bombing and assaults claimed by Al-Shabaab.

The jihadists were driven out of Mogadishu by government forces backed by 20,000 African Union peacekeepers in 2011. But they still carry out attacks including suicide bombings against government and international targets.

AFP

26 Killed In Deadly Somalia Hotel Siege

A man passes in front of the rubbles of the popular Medina hotel of Kismayo on July 13, 2019, a day after the attack. AFP Photos.

 

Twenty-six people were killed and 56 injured in a 12-hour attack by Al-Shabaab jihadists on a popular hotel that ended early Saturday in the southern Somali port city of Kismayo.

A suicide bomber rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into the Medina hotel on Friday before several heavily armed gunmen forced their way inside, shooting as they went, authorities said.

It was the largest coordinated attack by the Shabaab in Kismayo since 2012 when it lost control of the city.

The victims included several foreigners and a prominent Somali-Canadian journalist, Nodan Halayeh, who perished along with her husband.

Three Kenyans, three Tanzanians, two Americans, one Briton and one Canadian were among the dead, president Ahmed Mohamed Islam of the semi-autonomous Jubaland region told a news conference.

“There are also two wounded Chinese citizens,” he added.

The hotel was packed with politicians and prominent businessmen as meetings were underway for upcoming presidential elections in Jubaland, due in August.

One of the candidates in the election died in the siege, local authorities said.

‘Martyrdom attack’

“The whole building is in ruins, there are dead bodies and wounded who have been recovered from inside. The security forces have cordoned off the whole area,” said witness Muna Abdirahman.

Another witness Hussein Muktar said, “The blast was very big.”

“The security forces are in control now and the last terrorist was shot and killed”, security official Mohamed Abdiweli said.

“There are dead bodies and wounded people strewn inside the hotel,” Abdiweli added.

He said authorities believed four gunmen, who one witness described as wearing Somali police uniforms, were involved in the attack.

Halayeh’s death sparked an outpouring of grief on social media.

She was an ardent campaigner for Somali unity and peace and had started an online TV show named Integration.

In a recent podcast, Nalayeh said her television programme about the Somali diaspora gave the community a voice.

“Social media has changed the game for how people learn about culture. So, if we don’t become the creators of our own content, we are going to be at the mercy of other people telling the stories of Africa,” she had said.

A local journalist, Mohamed Omar Sahal, also died in the siege, the Somali journalists’ union SJS said, adding that these were the first journalist deaths in the country this year.

Shabaab, the Al-Qaeda-linked group, claimed responsibility for the siege describing it as “a martyrdom attack”.

The US Mission to Somalia condemned the attack and said it would “continue to work with our Somali and other international partners in the fight against violent extremism.”

‘Criminal, murderous, destructive’

The African Union’s Special Representative in Somalia, Francisco Madeira, said the attack was “meant to derail progress in Somalia as the country rebuilds and consolidates the gains made on peace and security.

“The attackers are a group of people with a criminal, murderous and destructive agenda. They cannot claim to be fighting to bring good governance to the country,” he said.

The attack is the latest in a long line of bombing and assaults claimed by Shabaab, which has fought for more than a decade to topple the Somali government.

The militant group emerged from Islamic Courts that once controlled central and southern Somalia and are variously estimated to number between 5,000 and 9,000 men.

In 2010, the Shabaab declared their allegiance to Al-Qaeda.

In 2011, they fled positions they once held in the capital Mogadishu, and have since lost many strongholds.

But they retain control of large rural swathes of the country and continue to wage a guerrilla war against the authorities.

AFP

Nine Civilians Killed In Somalia Revenge Attack Police

Somalia Election: Mohamed Abdullahi Emerges As President

 

Nine civilians were executed by a local militia in war-torn Somalia after the killing of a policeman by the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab, police said Saturday.

The revenge attack on Friday just outside Galkayo — one of the most developed cities in the centre of the country — targeted the Rahanweyn clan, several of whose members are suspected of being Shabaab fighters.

“This was a horrible incident, a gruesome killing against nine unarmed innocent civilians in southern Galkayo. All of the civilians belong to one clan and the gunmen shot them dead in one location a few minutes after suspected Shabaab gunmen killed” a policeman, Mohamed Abdirahman, a local police official said.

“This is an unacceptable act and we will bring those perpetrators to justice,” said Hussein Dini, a traditional elder.

“Their killing cannot be justified. It seems that the merciless gunmen were retaliating for the security official who they believe was killed by Al-Shabaab gunmen belonging to the clan of the victims.”

Witnesses told local media that the victims were rounded up from the streets or their homes and then shot dead on the outskirts of Galkayo.

Local officials have in the past fingered the Rahanweyn clan for fomenting instability in the region and supplying fighters to the Shabaab.

The local militia which staged the revenge attack are from the Saad Habargidir, a sub-clan of the Hawiye group which is dominant in the southern part of the city.

Galkayo, situated about 600 kilometres (380 miles) north of the capital Mogadishu, straddles the frontier with the self-proclaimed autonomous regions of Puntland and Galmudug.

The city has been the scene of violent clashes between forces of the two regions in recent years and also witnessed violence between the two rival clans occupying its northern and southern districts.

Two Cuban Doctors Abducted In Kenya

National Police Service spokesman Charles Owino speaks during a press conference on April 12, 2019, on the abduction of two Cuban doctors near Kenya’s border with Somalia earlier. 
SIMON MAINA / AFP

 

Suspected Somali Al-Shabaab jihadis kidnapped two Cuban doctors in northeastern Kenya on Friday and killed their police escort officer, officials said.

The operation happened as the two doctors — a general practitioner and a surgeon — were on the way to work in the town of Mandera, close to the border with Somalia.

“Today at around 9:00 am, suspected Al-Shabaab militants abducted the two Cuban doctors stationed at the Mandera County Referral Hospital,” the county’s governor, Ali Roba said in a statement.

Kenyan police spokesman Charles Owino said the assailants used two Toyota Probox cars to block the vehicle that the doctors were travelling in.

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One of the two police officers escorting them “was shot by the attackers and died on the spot. The attackers succeeded to abduct the two doctors and crossed the border with them,” said Owino.

The driver of the doctors’ vehicle was arrested “and is currently being interrogated,” he said.

“Our security officers are pursuing the attackers.”

A senior police officer, who asked not to be named, told AFP:  “From the modus operandi and the fact that they went towards the Somalia border, we have reasons to believe that the kidnappers are Al-Shabaab.”

The two doctors, whose names have not been released, are part of a group of about 100 Cubans who came to Kenya last year to help boost health services.

Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab militants have been waging an insurgency against Somalia’s foreign-backed government for over a decade.

Last November, an armed gang seized Silvia Romano, 23, an Italian charity worker, in the southeastern town of Chakama. Her whereabouts are unknown.

Police at the time warned against any speculation that the Shabaab may have been involved in her abduction.

The Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, have been fighting since 2007 to topple Somalia’s fragile government, which is supported by a 20,000-strong African Union force, Amisom.

The Shabaab fled fixed positions they once held in Mogadishu in 2011, and have since lost many of their strongholds.

But they retain control of large rural swathes of the country and continue to wage a guerrilla war against the authorities, striking at the heart of Somalia’s government.

The group has carried out a number of attacks in Kenya in reprisal for the country’s participation in Amisom.

Kidnappings in Kenya are relatively rare but can have a devastating impact on tourism, a major income-earner.

AFP

Somali Siege Ends With At Least 19 Dead

A victim is removed from the Maka Al-Mukarama hotel in the Somalia capital, Mogadishu on March 1, 2019, following a 24-hour seige by jihadists. Photo: Abdirazak Hussein FARAH / AFP

 

Security forces on Friday ended a siege by Al-Shabaab insurgents nearly 24 hours after jihadists mounted an attack in the Somali capital Mogadishu that left at least 19 dead.

“The last terrorist gunman was killed after the security forces destroyed a room in which he was taking cover and the siege is over now,” Ismail Muktar, the commissioner for Hamar Jajab district, told reporters.

“The security forces are clearing the area.”

The attack began on Thursday evening at around 1800 GMT, when a Shabaab militant in a car blew himself up, causing a huge blast that ripped the front off a major hotel and left several cars in flames on the busy street.

Other fighters then stormed inside a building housing a restaurant, where they were quickly surrounded by police.

Sporadic shooting continued throughout Thursday night and into Friday.

Medics pulled five bodies from the wreckage immediately after the explosion, but the recovery of more bodies was blocked for hours by the ensuing fighting.

“Those killed include children. The Shebab assailants, whom we saw, were only two,” said former Somali MP Abdi Barre Jibril.

By Friday afternoon, officials said the death toll had climbed significantly.

“We have recovered 14 more dead bodies from under the rubble of collapsed buildings, bringing the total number of dead to 19,” said Aamin Ambulance director Abdikadir Abdirahman.

At least 112 people were admitted to the city’s three main hospitals, hospital sources said.

Heavy explosions could be heard coming from the building on Friday afternoon as elite soldiers appeared to move in to storm Shabaab positions.

– Huge blast –
The attack is the latest in a long line of bombing and assaults claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked group.

The organisation announced that fighters waged a “martyrdom-seeking” and commando operation against what it described as a “luxury hotel inhabited by government officials and security service officers”.

The explosion which began the assault was so powerful that it tossed several vehicles into the air that then burst into flames.

Witnesses said the bombing took place in the early evening, when the street was filled with people relaxing after a day’s work.

“The whole area was in flames,” said Abdisamed Mohamed, a witness. “There was gunfire too.”

The head of Somalia’s journalist union, Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, who survived the attack, described the devastation.

“I was the first one who came out of the hotel when the explosion took place and I saw many vehicles burning at the scene,” he said.

Bloody history

The Shabaab emerged from Islamic Courts that once controlled central and southern Somalia and are variously estimated to number between 5,000 and 9,000 men.

In 2010 the Shabaab declared their allegiance to Al-Qaeda.

The following year, the group were chased out of Mogadishu by the 22,000-strong African Union peace-enforcement mission, AMISOM.

They have since lost many of their strongholds but retain control of large rural swathes of the country and continue to wage a guerrilla war, frequently hitting Mogadishu.

In October 2017 a truck bombing in a busy neighbourhood of the capital killed over 500 people, the deadliest attack in Somalia to date.

The Shabaab have also carried out a string of attacks in Kenya since 2011.

The deadliest of these took place on April 2, 2015, when 148 people were killed at Garissa University in northeastern Kenya.

In 2013, a Shabaab raid on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall left 67 dead, a siege that unfolded over four days. And in January this year, 14 people were killed in a Shabaab-claimed attack on a luxury hotel complex in Nairobi.

AFP

62 Al Shabaab Militants Killed Following US Military Air Strikes

 

About 62 militants from the jihadist al-Shabab movement have been killed following six air strikes by the US Military in Somalia. 

The US military said Monday that four strikes on Saturday killed 34 militants and another two on Sunday killed 28.

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The air attacks, in a coastal region south of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, were the deadliest in the country since November last year when the US said it had killed 100 militants.

According to a statement by the US Africa Command, all six airstrikes were “conducted to prevent al-Shabab from using remote areas as a safe haven to plot, direct, inspire, and recruit for future attacks,”.

AFP

Generals Among Seven Killed In Somali Jihadist Attack

Somalia Election: Mohamed Abdullahi Emerges As President

A mine blast killed two generals and five other soldiers near the Somali capital Mogadishu on Thursday, military sources said, in an attack claimed by the jihadist Al-Shabaab movement.

General Omar Adan Hassan, head of the army’s 12th brigade, and the brigade’s operational commander, General Abdi Ali Jamame, were among those killed in the blast.

A statement from the president’s office paid tribute to all the victims as “martyrs” who had “sacrificed their lives” working for the return of peace in their country.

Their military convoy was returning to Mogadishu after visiting a military base south of the capital on a coastal road when a vehicle set off the device.

“The terrorists planted an explosive device along the road targeting a vehicle transporting general Omar Dhere,” military spokesman Mohamed Adan told AFP.

The two officers were on board a pick-up truck and most of its passengers were killed, said another military spokesman, Abdulahi Ahmed. Two other soldiers were wounded in the blast.

The Shebab group, an Al-Qaeda affiliate which has been fighting to overthrow the internationally backed Somali government for over a decade, claimed responsibility for the attack.

AFP

Somalia: Al-Shabaab Loses Af-Urur To Military

Somalia Election: Mohamed Abdullahi Emerges As President

 

Military forces of Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region have retaken a strategic town from Islamic militant group al Shabaab, an officer said on Friday.

Captain Saiid Mohamed Diriye said his forces retook Af Urur without a fight. The town is important because the main road that links the cities of Garowe, Bosaso and the Somali capital Mogadishu pass nearby.

“The militants fled into the hills and we are pursuing them,” Diriye told Reuters from Af Urur.

Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab fighters had captured the town – which they and Puntland forces have fought over several times – last month, he said.

Al Shabaab wants to expel the African Union-mandated peacekeeping force AMISOM from Somalia, topple its central government and establish an administration based on its strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.

Attacks are relatively rare in Puntland, which has its own government and security forces patrolling its territory on the northeastern tip of the Horn of Africa, jutting out into the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.

 

 

 

Somalia’s Al Shabaab kills 27 Troops

Somalia Election: Mohamed Abdullahi Emerges As President

 

Al Shabaab fighters detonated a suicide car bomb before storming a military base in the south of Somalia on Monday and killing 27 soldiers, the militant group said, its second strike on the base in as many months.

Fighting broke out between al Shabaab and the national army shortly afterward, resulting in the army killing 87 militants, assistant information minister Aden Isak Ali told a state news agency SONNA on Monday.

The attack, whose blast was heard by residents of a nearby town, follows a strike last month by al Shabaab on the base in Baar Sanguni, about 50 km (31 miles) from the port city of Kismayu, that wounded seven soldiers.

The group is battling to topple the central government and impose its rule based on its own strict interpretation of Islam’s sharia law. It has killed thousands of Somalis and hundreds of civilians across East Africa in a decade-long insurgency.

“We first attacked the base with a suicide car bomb and then stormed,” said Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s spokesman for military operations. “We killed 27 soldiers and took the base. Some soldiers fled into the jungles.”

The military sent reinforcements to the base following the reports of an explosion and heavy fighting after the rebel attack.

“The national army defended itself and killed 87 militants,” Ali said, adding the army pursued other militants into the jungles nearby.

Residents of the town of Jamame, 70 km (44 miles) away from Kismayu, said they heard the blast, followed by gunfire.

“We heard a huge blast after early morning prayers. Then the heavy exchange of gunfire followed. It was in the direction of Baar Sanguni,” Osman Abdullahi told Reuters.

Al Shabaab Seizes Town From Somali Government

al-shabbabThe Islamist group al Shabaab seized a town northwest of Somalia’s capital from government forces on Sunday, the latest small center taken by the militant group trying to topple the country’s Western-backed government.

Al Shabaab, which once ruled much of Somalia, has been fighting for years to impose its strict interpretation of Islam on Somalia. African Union and Somali troops have driven it from major urban strongholds and ports, but they have often struggled to defend smaller, more remote areas from attacks.

“Many al Shabaab fighters attacked us this morning and after brief fighting we left the town for tactical reasons,” Somali army Major Hussein Edin told Reuters from the nearby town of Baidoa. One Somali soldier was killed, he said.

Goofgaduud lies about 250 km (160 miles) northwest of Mogadishu, the capital.

Al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, confirmed the group had captured the settlement. He said seven Somali soldiers were killed.

Al Shabaab’s casualty figures and those announced by officials often differ.

In a separate incident, Somali forces in the semi-autonomous Galmudug region north of Mogadishu freed a Kenyan woman, Loise Njoki Weru, who officials said was held by pirates since 2015.

Galmudug Vice President Mohamed Hashi said she was now in safe hands after security forces rescued her and had spoken to her family, but he did not say when she would be repatriated.

Earlier this month, 26 Asian sailors were freed after more than four years of captivity in a small fishing village in Somalia after being held by pirates.

Israeli PM Remembers Brother Killed In Entebbe Rescue

NetanyahuIsraeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, began an African tour on Monday, attending a memorial service at Entebbe Airport in Uganda where his commando brother was killed rescuing hostages 40 years ago – an event which he has said shaped his future.

Lt. Col Yonatan “Yoni” Netanyahu led an assault team of 29 commandos who stormed the terminal in 1976 to rescue Israelis and others who had been on board an Air France flight diverted to Uganda by Palestinian and German hijackers.

“I am touched to stand in this place, this very place, where my brother, Yoni, fell,” the Prime Minister said at Entebbe Airport. “Entebbe is always with me, in my thoughts, in my consciousness, deep in my heart.”

The old building where the hostages were held still stands, but a new terminal now serves the airport at Entebbe, which lies a few miles from the capital Kampala.

Some former Israeli commandos involved in the raid also attended the ceremony.

The Prime Minister’s elder brother was the only Israeli soldier killed in the 1976 raid. The hijackers, three hostages and dozens of Ugandan soldiers died.

More than 100 mostly Israeli hostages were freed. Ugandan autocrat Idi Amin, in power at that time, broke ties with Israel after the raid.

“My brother’s death changed my life and directed it to its present course,” he said in an interview with Newsweek in 2012.

Speaking on Monday before talks with President Yoweri Museveni, Netanyahu said, “Exactly 40 years ago, Israel soldiers carried out a historic mission in Entebbe.

“Forty years ago they landed in the dead of the night in a country led by a brutal dictator. Today we landed in broad day light in a friendly country led by a president who fights terrorists.”

Uganda has been targeted by Somali Islamist group, al Shabaab, which has said it wants to drive out Ugandan and other soldiers fighting with an African Union peace force in Somalia.

Netanyahu was accompanied by an 80-strong delegation of Israeli business executives from more than 50 companies.

After talks with Museveni, he was to attend a summit with leaders from Rwanda, Kenya, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Zambia.

“Africa is a continent on the rise. Israel looks forward to strengthening ties with all its countries,” he said.

After Uganda, the Israeli Prime Minister travels to Kenya where Israel provides training for the security forces and has other investments.

“Israel is a critical partner to Kenya, with its development assistance in security and defense, agriculture and particularly irrigation are important investments here,” Kenyan presidential spokesman, Manoah said ahead of the visit.

The tour will also take Netanyahu to Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Al Shabaab Militants Kill Five Policemen In Northern Kenya

Al ShabaabSomalia’s Al Shabaab militants killed five police officers in a border region in northeastern Kenya on Monday, a regional official said.

There was no immediate statement from Al Shabaab, which has made a series of deadly incursions into neighbouring Kenya, saying it will continue until Nairobi withdraws troops from an African Union force fighting the militants in Somalia.

“We condemn the attack by Al Shabaab at Dimu this morning, five police officers killed,” Mandera County Governor, Ali Roba, said on his Twitter account.

Diplomats say Kenya’s northeastern border with Somalia is a security weak spot, given the challenge of policing a long frontier, poor coordination between security services and a culture of corruption that allows those prepared to pay a bribe to pass unchallenged.

Al Shabaab has targeted the Mandera region in the past.