Kenya Suspends Flights To Somalia For Three Months

Kenya announced that flights between Nairobi and Mogadishu had been suspended.

 

 

Kenya announced Tuesday that flights between Nairobi and Mogadishu had been suspended, just days after Somalia said diplomatic ties with its neighbour had been normalised following months of tension.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) said commercial flights to and from Somalia would be paused for three months, without giving a reason.

“All flights between Kenya and Somalia are suspended expect medevac flights and United Nations flights on humanitarian missions only,” the regulator said..

KCAA director general Gilbert Kibe told AFP the suspension was “a decision by the government” but gave no further details.

The directive appeared catch some Somali aviation officials and travel agents by surprise.

“We had not been given a prior notice, and there’s been no explanation about the reason so far,” an airport tower operator in Mogadishu told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The suspension comes a day after Somalia said shipments of khat from Kenya remained on hold. Khat is a narcotic leaf popular in Somalia.

Somalia announced last week that bilateral ties with Kenya had been restored, citing “the interests of good neighbourliness” as motivating its decision.

Nairobi said it took note of the statement and was looking forward “to further normalisation of relations by the Somali authorities.”

Mogadishu cut off diplomatic relations in December after Nairobi hosted the political leadership of Somaliland, a breakaway state not recognised by Somalia’s central government.

Somalia has long bristled over what it calls Kenya’s meddling in regions over its border, while Nairobi has accused Mogadishu of using it as a scapegoat for its own political problems.

The pair have also engaged in a long-running territorial dispute over a stretch of the Indian Ocean claimed by both nations believed to hold valuable deposits of oil and gas, and have sought international arbitration over the matter.

Al-Shabaab Attack Hotel In Mogadishu

 

 

Gunmen are attacking a hotel in central Mogadishu following a car bombing at the entrance, according to witnesses and Somali police, with the Al-Shabaab jihadist group claiming responsibility.

Somali soldiers surrounded the Hotel Afrik and blocked off access to it, an AFP journalist reported.

The hotel is near the road leading to Mogadishu’s airport, frequented by officials, members of the security forces, and community leaders.

“There is ongoing (an) attack on a hotel… A car bomb hit the front entrance and armed men stormed the building,” police officer Mohamed Adan told AFP.

“There is an exchange of gunfire and the security forces are trying to rescue people inside from the attackers,” he added.

Witnesses confirmed a massive explosion followed by smoke after a car struck the hotel entrance at great speed, followed by gunfire.

“The gunfire is still going on and there was another blast after the first big one,” said Osman Saadaq, a witness.

Another witness, Muhubo Said, said “casualties could be possibly high”.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in a brief statement, saying: “The mujahidin stormed in an ongoing operation inside Hotel Afrik where members of the apostate team are stationed.”

The Al-Qaeda-linked group has been waging a violent insurgency across Somalia seeking to unseat the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu.

AFP

Somalia Cuts Diplomatic Ties With Kenya

This file photo taken on May 18, 2016, shows a woman waving a flag as soldiers and other military personnel of Somalia’s breakaway territory of Somaliland march past during an Independence day celebration parade in the capital, Hargeisa. PHOTO: MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB / AFP

 

Somalia announced on Tuesday it is severing diplomatic ties with Kenya, accusing Nairobi of “recurring” interference in its political affairs as Mogadishu prepares for long-awaited elections.

Tensions had been rising between the neighbours and the announcement came as Kenya hosted the leadership of Somaliland, a breakaway state not recognised by the central government in Mogadishu which considers the territory part of Somalia.

Information Minister Osman Abukar Dubbe told reporters that Kenyan diplomats in Mogadishu had been given seven days to leave and that Somalia’s envoys were being recalled from Nairobi.

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“The Somali government considers the people of Kenya a peace-loving community who want to live in harmony with other societies in the region. But the current leadership of Kenya is working to drive the two sides apart,” he said in Mogadishu.

“The government took this decision to respond to recurring outright political violations and interference by Kenya against the sovereignty of our country.”

AFP

Al-Shabaab Militants Attack Two Somali Military Bases

al shabaab
Al Shabaab soldiers patrol in formation along the streets of Dayniile district in Southern Mogadishu, March 5, 2012. REUTERS/Feisal Omar.

 

Al-Shabaab Islamists on Wednesday carried out attacks on two Somali military bases, using a suicide vehicle bombing and dozens of heavily armed militants, a military official said.

African Union troops stepped in to help repel the second, larger attack after a suicide bomber drove a vehicle packed with explosives onto a bridge leading to the Qoryoley army base some 95 kilometres (59 miles) west of Mogadishu and detonated it.

Earlier they had attacked the Ceel-Salini military base some 30 kilometres away.

“The terrorists carried out an … attack on the military bases at Qoryoley and Ceel-salini but our brave boys repelled them, they (Shabaab) have suffered heavy casualties this morning and the army is in full control in both areas now,” said Mohamed Adan, a Somali military commander in a nearby town.

“They have destroyed part of the bridge across the entrance to Qoryoley where the Somali military base is located using a vehicle loaded with explosives.”

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He said the AU peacekeeping force AMISOM had helped fight the Al-Qaeda linked militants.

It was not yet known how many casualties there were.

Witnesses said dozens of heavily armed Shabaab militants entered Qoryoley town and addressed a gathering of residents before retreating.

“The Shabaab fighters entered the town and one of their commanders spoke with a gathering before they made their way out of the town, the situation is quiet now and the Somali forces backed by AMISOM soldiers are patrolling the streets,” Ali Moalim, a resident in Qoryoley said by phone.

Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, saying they had “captured a sizeable amount of military supplies”.

The group has fought for over a decade to topple the internationally-backed Somali government, and carries out regular attacks against civilian and government targets, despite losing much of the territory they once controlled.

Al-Shabaab Militants Claim Bomb Attack In Mogadishu

The wreckage of a car that was destroyed during the car bomb that exploded in Mogadishu that killed more than 20 people is photographed in Mogadishu on December 28, 2019. A massive car bomb exploded in a busy area of the Somali capital Mogadishu on December 28, 2019, leaving more than 20 people dead.
Abdirazak Hussein FARAH / AFP

 

Al-Shabaab Islamist militants on Monday claimed responsibility for Saturday’s massive car bomb in the Somali capital Mogadishu that killed 81 people, including two Turkish citizens.

“…the mujahideen carried (out) an attack… targeting a convoy of Turkish mercenaries and apostate militia who were escorting them,” Al-Shabaab spokesman Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage said in an audio message.

Details later…

Update: Car Bomb Leaves At Least 76 Dead In Somali Capital Mogadishu

The wreckage of a car that was destroyed during the car bomb that exploded in Mogadishu that killed more than 20 people is photographed in Mogadishu on December 28, 2019. 
Abdirazak Hussein FARAH / AFP

 

A massive car bomb exploded in a busy area of Mogadishu on Saturday, leaving at least 76 people dead, many of them university students, officials said.

The blast occurred at a busy intersection southwest of the Somali capital where traffic is heavy because of a security checkpoint and a tax office.

The wounded were carried on stretchers from the site, where the force of the explosion left charred and twisted remains of vehicles.

Mogadishu is regularly hit by car bombings and attacks waged by Al-Shabaab Islamist militants allied to Al-Qaeda, but Saturday’s blast is the deadliest in about two years.

Many of those killed are believed to be university students whose bus was hit by the blast. Two Turkish nationals also died, police said.

“The number of casualties we have confirmed is 76 dead and 70 wounded, it could still be higher,” the director of the private Aamin Ambulance service, Abdukadir Abdirahman Haji, told AFP.

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Police officer Ibrahim Mohamed described the explosion as “devastating”.

“We have confirmed that two Turkish nationals, presumably road construction engineers are among the dead, we don’t have details about whether they were passing by the area or stayed in the area,” he said.

‘Dead Bodies Scattered’

Mogadishu’s mayor Omar Mohamud Mohamed told a press conference that the exact number of dead was not yet known, but that around 90 people were wounded.

“We will confirm the exact number of the number of the dead later but it is not going to be small, most of the dead were innocent university students and other civilians,” he said.

“This was a devastating incident because there were many people including students in buses who were passing by the area when the blast occurred,” said another witness, Muhibo Ahmed.

Sakariye Abdukadir, who was near the area when the car bomb detonated, said the blast “destroyed several of my car windows”.

“All I could see was scattered dead bodies… amid the blast and some of them burned beyond recognition.”

No group has yet claimed the attack.

Mogadishu is regularly hit by attacks by Al-Shabaab, which has fought for more than a decade to topple the Somali government.

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

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

In 2011, its fighters 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

Two weeks ago, five people were killed when Shabaab militants attacked a Mogadishu hotel popular with politicians, army officers and diplomats in an hours-long siege.

Since 2015, there have been 13 attacks in Somalia with 20 or more killed, 11 of which have been in Mogadishu, according to a tally of AFP figures.

All of them involved car bombs.

The deadliest attack in the country’s history was a truck bombing in October 2017 in Mogadishu which left 512 people dead and around 295 injured.

AFP

17 Dead, 28 Wounded In Somalia Bomb Blast

FILE PHOTO: A man passes in front of the rubbles of the popular Medina hotel of Kismayo on July 13, 2019, a day after at least 26 people, including several foreigners, were killed and 56 injured in a suicide bomb and gun attack claimed by Al-Shabaab militants. PHOTO: STRINGER / AFP

 

Seventeen people were killed and more than two dozen wounded when a car bomb exploded in Mogadishu on Monday, the latest deadly attack on Somalia’s capital claimed by Al-Shabaab militants.

The blast, near a security checkpoint on the main road to the international airport, reverberated throughout the city and sent massive plumes of black smoke into the air.

Witnesses described scenes of carnage as a car veered out of traffic and detonated outside the main gate of a hotel with tremendous force.

“I could see several people lying (on the ground), some of them dead in a pool of blood,” said Abdikarim Mohamed, a witness to the attack.

“The blast was huge. It did damage to several nearby buildings.”

Suado Ali was walking out of a travel agency when she “was forced to the ground by the shockwave”.

“I saw nearly ten people lying on the ground, some motionless and others screaming for help”, she told AFP.

Medina Hospital, the main trauma facility in the Somali capital, was inundated by the dead and wounded.

“The bodies of 17 people killed in the blast were taken to the hospital mortuary while 28 others were admitted for various wounds,” said Mohamed Yusuf, the hospital’s director.

Another witness, Abdullahi Ahmed, said at least two government security personnel manning one of the checkpoints on the road were killed in the blast.

‘Martyrdom operation’

Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated militant group waging a deadly insurgency in Somalia, claimed responsibility for the bombing.

“The martyrdom operation was carried out using a vehicle loaded with explosives which targeted a checkpoint along the airport road,” the group said in a brief statement.

The attack comes just over a week after 26 people were killed and 56 injured in a 12-hour attack by Al-Shabaab jihadists on a popular hotel in the southern Somali port city of Kismayo.

In that attack, a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives into the Medina hotel before several heavily armed gunmen forced their way inside, shooting as they went.

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

The militant group emerged from the Islamic Courts Union that once controlled central and southern Somalia and is 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

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

38 People Dead As Car Explosion Rocks Somalia Presidential Palace

Somali residents react as they gather at the scene of a suicide car explosion in front of Doorbin hotel in Mogadishu, on February 24, 2018. At least 38 people were killed and several wounded when two car bombs exploded on February 23, 2018 near the presidential palace and a hotel in the Somali capital of Mogadishu. PHOTO: Mohamed ABDIWAHAB / AFP

 

Two car bombings killed 38 people in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Friday, the city’s main ambulance service told AFP on Saturday.

“We have seen at least 38 people dead,” said Abdukadir Abdurahman Aden of the Aamin Ambulance of the bombings that targeted the presidential palace and a hotel.

The first blast, followed by gunfire, occurred at a security checkpoint close to Villa Somalia, the name for the seat of government, while a second followed soon after at a hotel, according to police.

The Shabaab Islamist militant group claimed the attacks in a statement posted online, saying it was targeting the government and security services.

The blasts follow weeks of relative calm in Mogadishu.

According to officials, the main attack involved the use of a vehicle loaded with explosives attempting to breach a checkpoint leading to the presidential palace, but security forces prevented the assault.

“The security forces foiled the intent of the terrorists. They were aiming for key targets but they could not even go closer, there were five of them killed by the security force,” said Abdullahi Ahmed, a security officer.

The Shabaab is fighting to overthrow Somalia’s internationally-backed government. In October it carried out it’s deadliest-ever bombing, killing over 500 people.

In the wake of that attack, Somalia’s government declared a fresh offensive against the group and US drone strikes have increased in frequency.

While the militant group was pushed out of the capital in 2011 by an African Union force it continues to control large parts of the countryside and launches regular attacks on government, military and civilian targets.

AFP

Car Bombs Kill 18 In Somali Capital

 

This file photo shows the scene of a car bombing in Mogadishu on October 29, 2017. Photo: Mohamed ABDIWAHAB / AFP

 

At least 18 people were killed and 20 wounded when two car bombs exploded on Friday near the presidential palace and a hotel in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, the city’s main ambulance service said.

Jihadist rebels claimed the attack.

“We have so far collected 18 bodies and 20 wounded persons from one of the blast scenes,” Abdukadir Abdurahman Aden of the Aamin Ambulance told AFP.

The bombings targeted the presidential palace and a city hotel, police said.

The first blast, followed by gunfire, occurred at a checkpoint close to Villa Somalia, the name for the seat of government, while a second followed soon after at a hotel.

“I can confirm an attack in the vicinity of the presidential palace,” said police officer Ibrahim Mohamed.

“Another car loaded with explosives went off close to a recently opened hotel,” Mohamed added.

The Shabaab Islamist militant group claimed the attacks in a statement posted online, saying it was targeting the government and security services.

The blasts follow weeks of relative calm in Mogadishu.

According to officials, the main attack involved the use of a vehicle loaded with explosives attempting to breach a checkpoint leading to the presidential palace but security forces prevented the assault.

“The security forces foiled the intent of the terrorists. They were aiming for key targets but they could not even go closer, there were five of them killed by the security force,” said Abdulahi Ahmed, a security officer.

“The situation is back to normal and the security forces are in control,” he added.

The Shabaab is fighting to overthrow Somalia’s internationally-backed government. In October it carried out its deadliest-ever bombing, killing over 500 people.

In the wake of that attack Somalia’s government declared a fresh offensive against the group and US drone strikes have increased in frequency.

While the militant group was pushed out of the capital in 2011 by an African Union force it continues to control large parts of the countryside and launches regular attacks on government, military and civilian targets.

AFP

Somalia Sacks Security Chiefs As Attack Toll Hits 27

Somali security forces and civilians walk among damages at the scene of a blast on October 29, 2017, a day after two car bombs exploded in Mogadishu. Mohamed ABDIWAHAB / AFP

The death toll from a deadly attack on a hotel in Mogadishu rose to 27 on Sunday, prompting the Somali government to sack its police and intelligence chiefs.

The move came after Al-Qaeda aligned Shabaab gunmen staged coordinated bomb attacks Saturday outside the Nasa Hablod Hotel 2 before storming the building.

Two weeks ago, Mogadishu was hit by a massive truck bombing that killed 358 people in the troubled country’s worst-ever attack.

Saturday’s carnage was unleashed when a car bomb exploded outside the hotel entrance followed by a minibus loaded with explosives going off at a nearby intersection.

The gunmen then rushed into the popular hotel, launching a siege that lasted several hours.

Officials had initially given a toll of 14 dead, saying “most” of the casualties were civilians although a senior police official and a former MP were among them.

“Five gunmen stormed the building, two of them were killed and the rest captured alive,” security ministry spokesman Abdiasiz Ali Ibrahim told reporters.

Sporadic gunfire could be heard inside the building where the gunmen had holed up, but several people managed to escape, officials said.

“Most people fled the hotel through a back door but some are still trapped inside,” Mohamed Dek told AFP after managing to escape the hotel after the initial explosion.

“I was very lucky.”

The Shabaab claimed the attack in a statement on its Andalus radio station, saying it was a hotel where “apostate officials” were staying.

– ‘Serious accountability’ –

The latest toll was given by Security Minister Mohamed Abukar Islow at a cabinet meeting at which ministers approved the dismissal of intelligence agency boss Abdillahi Mohamed Sanbalooshe and police chief Abdihakim Dahir Said.

The two were “fired for the purpose of serious accountability,” said a statement, which also said police were interrogating the three captured gunmen.

The removal of the officials comes soon after the abrupt resignation of Somalia’s defence minister and army chief on October 12, both of whom quit without explanation just two days before the massive truck bombing.

Although a new army chief was named the same day, General Abdi Jama Warsame, the defence portfolio remains vacant.

Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed swiftly condemned Saturday’s attack, saying it would not halt the country’s determination to fight back.

“The violent terrorists carried out this attack to scare our people who are united to support security after the disaster on October 14. Such atrocities will neither deter nor discourage our will to fight the terrorists,” he said in a statement.

In Sunday’s statement, the information minister said five people had so far been arrested in connection with the October 14 attack.

To date, no group has claimed responsibility for the truck bombing, though Shabaab militants have been widely blamed.

The Nasa Hablod 2 is a popular hotel located in the north of the city whose sister hotel, the Nasa Hablod, was hit by Shabaab militants in June 2016, in an attack that killed 11 people, including a junior minister.

The Shabaab has made attacks on hotels — commonly beginning with a suicide car bombing followed by an invasion by gunmen — a regular strategy in its decade-long battle to overthrow successive internationally-backed governments in Mogadishu.

The Shabaab lost its foothold in Mogadishu in 2011 but has continued its fight, launching regular attacks on military, government and civilian targets in the capital and elsewhere.

AFP

Many Killed As As Car Bombs Explode In Mogadishu

This file photo taken on October 15, 2017, shows Somali soldiers patrolling on the scene of the explosion of a truck bomb in the centre of Mogadishu. Mohamed ABDIWAHAB / AFP

A car packed with explosives blew up outside a hotel in Mogadishu on Saturday as a minibus also exploded at a nearby junction, with the emergency services reporting “many dead bodies”.

Witnesses reported hearing gunfire and said the entire area around the Nasa Hablod hotel was sealed off by security forces to keep people away.

“A car loaded with explosives went off at the entrance of Nasa Hablod Hotel and there is gunfire,” police official Ibrahim Mohamed told AFP, saying it looked like a coordinated attack.

“There was another minibus loaded with explosives which went off a nearby intersection,” he said, confirming there were casualties but without giving an initial number.

The blasts occurred just two weeks after a huge truck bombing in the Somali capital which killed at least 358 people, making it the deadliest attack in the country’s history.

Somalia’s Aamin ambulance service said there were “many dead bodies” in a posting on its official Twitter feed, adding that it had already evacuated 15 wounded people from the area.

An AFP correspondent at the scene also reported seeing two people lying on the ground but their condition was not immediately clear.

The Nasa Hablod is a popular hotel located in the north of the city.

AFP