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.

Somali Islamists Say Base Attacked, One Of Their Fighters Killed

somalia islamistsIslamist group Al Shabaab said it fought off an attack on one of its bases in southern Somalia early on Wednesday that was launched by foreign commandos who flew in on two helicopters, leaving one Al Shabaab fighter dead in the gun battle.

Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, did not identify the nationality of the troops who launched the assault at about 1 a.m. in the Awdigle district of Lower Shabelle area, about 50 km (30 miles) south of Mogadishu.

Several foreign nations have been supporting the Somali government’s efforts to combat Al Shabaab’s insurgency.

The AMISOM peacekeeping force is made up of troops from several African nations which has been fighting alongside the Somali army. An AMISOM spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

U.S. officials said in 2014 that U.S. military advisers had secretly operated in Somalia since around 2007. They also said at that time that Washington planned to deepen its security assistance to help Somalia fend off the Islamist threat.

Washington said it launched air strikes on another al Shabaab base on Saturday killing more than 150 Islamist fighters. Al Shabaab said the number was exaggerated.

It was not immediately possible to obtain any U.S. comment.

Al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman told Reuters the two helicopters landed on the banks of the River Shabelle and commandos from the aircraft advanced on the base.

“They were masked and spoke foreign languages which our fighters could not understand,” Abu Musab told Reuters. “We do not know who they were but we foiled them.”

He said the commandos carried rocket launchers and M16 rifles – referring to a weapon used by U.S. forces although Abu Musab did not mention any nationality.

Residents in the area confirmed there had been a gun battle and said they saw helicopters in the area. They said the mobile phone network did not work during fighting.

“We were awoken by exchange of heavy guns,” said resident Ahmed Farah speaking by phone later on Wednesday. “We could see the helicopters land and fly.”

He said al Shabaab later sealed the area so it was not possible to know if there were any casualties.

Al Shabaab, which wants to topple the Western-backed Somali government, has launched a spate of bombings in Mogadishu and elsewhere in the past two weeks, killing dozens of people. A car bomb killed at least three police officers on Wednesday.

Three Killed In Suspected Islamist Attack In Northern Kenya

boko haram captureAt least three men were killed in a village in Kenya’s coastal Lamu county in the early hours of Sunday during a raid by al Shabaab Islamist militants, police and the group said.

Gunmen speaking Somali came to Pandanguo village searching for men, a survivor said. They interrogated those they found and killed some, he said from a local hospital.

The village sits about 40 km (25 miles) inland from the Indian Ocean town of Lamu, which is popular with Western tourists, and is 100 km from the border with Somalia.

“They asked me questions in the Somali language. When I struggled to respond, they shot me but hit my hand,” said the victim, who asked not to be named.

Al Shabaab’s military operation spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab said in a statement the group was behind the Lamu attack.

Al Shaabab has said in the past its frequent attacks in Kenya are punishment for Kenya sending its troops into Somalia as part of an African Union peacekeeping force.

In 2014, at least 60 people were killed in the area in a spate of attacks that targeted non-Muslim men. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for those attacks.

Like the attack on Sunday, those attacks took place inland from the coast.

President Jonathan Condemns Al-Shabab Attack On Kenyan University

JonathanPresident Goodluck Jonathan has extended heartfelt condolences to the government and people of Kenya and to the families of those who died on Thursday in the gruesome terrorist attack on the Garissa University College in Kenya.

In a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, President Jonathan utterly condemned the deliberate targeting of innocent persons, schools and other soft targets by terrorists.

He said that “such atrocious, despicable and barbaric acts of violence” ought to have no place in any civilized society.

The President assured President Uhuru Kenyatta and the brotherly people of Kenya that Nigeria stands in full solidarity with them as they come to grips once again with the aftermath of another heinous terrorist attack on their country.

Nigeria, President Jonathan affirmed, would continue to work with Kenya, other African countries and the international community to rid the world of all terrorist groups.

The President believes that the attack on the Kenyan University and other similar atrocities across the world must strengthen and solidify the resolve of the global community to take more urgent and co-ordinated actions to speedily defeat the agents of global terror.

Al Shabaab Storms Kenyan University, 70 Killed

Al shabaabScores of people were killed on Thursday when Islamist militant group al Shabaab stormed a Kenyan university campus, taking Christians hostage and engaging security forces in an extended shootout.

With scores of students wounded and hundreds unaccounted for, Police and soldiers surrounded Garissa University College. They sealed off the compound and were trying to flush out the gunmen, Kenyan police chief, Joseph Boinet said.

Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the pre-dawn attack near the Somali border. The group has links to al Qaeda and a record of raids on Kenyan soil in retaliation for Nairobi sending troops to fight it in its home state of Somalia.

Authorities offered a 20 million shilling ($215,000) reward for information leading to the arrest of a man called Mohamed Mohamud, described as “most wanted” and linked to the attack.

Al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, said it was holding many Christian hostages inside.

“We sorted people out and released the Muslims,” he told Reuters. “Fighting still goes on inside the college.”

Boinet said the attackers had “shot indiscriminately” while inside the university compound.

Earlier reports said at least 14 people had been killed, including two security personnel while the Red Cross said 50 students had been freed.

Interior Minister, Joseph Nkaissery, in his initial statement also said 280 of the 815 students at the university had been accounted for and efforts were underway to track down the others, according to the Twitter feed of Kenya’s national disaster agency.

It did not say how many students remained trapped on the campus. Some had managed to escape unaided.

One image provided by a local journalist shows a dozen blood-soaked bodies strewn across a single university classroom, raising the likelihood that the death toll will rise significantly when the security services clear other al Shabaab-held parts of the campus.

“We heard some gunshots and we were sleeping so it was around five and guys started jumping up and down running for their lives,” an unnamed student told Reuters TV.

Death Toll Rises To 70

The death toll in the university attack in northeastern Kenya later rose to at least 70 on Thursday, with another 79 wounded, but the siege was almost over, Kenya’s Interior Minister, Joseph Nkaissery, later said.

Nkaissery told reporters in Garissa that about 500 out of 815 students were accounted for, while four al Shabaab fighters were killed and 90 percent of the threat eliminated. However, he cautioned that “the operation is ongoing, anything can happen.”

At the same press conference in Garissa, Kenyan police chief, Joseph Boinet, said the East African country has introduced a dusk to dawn (6.30pm – 6.30am) curfew for four regions near Somalia border as a security precaution.

“We have 49 casualties so far, all with bullet and (shrapnel) wounds,” said a doctor at Garissa hospital.