Suspected Islamist militants in Somalia launched an assault on the facility today in an apparent bid to free jailed comrades
United Nations calls for investigation after alleged rape victim and journalist who reported claims are arrested for defamation, in latest in a string of similar cases
(Reuters) – An Ethiopian military aircraft carrying ammunition crash-landed at Mogadishu’s international airport on Friday, bursting into flames and killing four of the six crew members.
The Soviet-made Antonov 24 plane got into trouble in the air and then missed the runway, hurtling into the ground shortly after 0400 GMT and setting off the ammunition.
Ethiopian troops are supporting Somalia’s fight against al Qaeda-linked militants in the Horn of Africa country, although they are not part of an African Union (AU) peacekeeping force. There was no immediate comment from Ethiopia’s foreign ministry.
“We can hear explosions as it burns. It is burning like hell,” said one security source at the airport. After the fire was put out, only a blackened shell of the plane remained.
The AU peacekeeping force, known as AMISOM, said in a statement four crew members were killed and two were in hospital.
It was unclear what ammunition the plane was carrying and where it was headed. A convoy of empty Somali military trucks had earlier been seen at the airport.
A car bomb has exploded near a government convoy in the Somali capital Mogadishu, killing at least seven people, officials say.
A police spokesman told AFP news agency a suicide attacker had driven a car laden with explosives at an armoured government vehicle.
Eyewitnesses told the BBC a government vehicle carrying foreign aid workers had been targeted.
The attack comes days before a conference in London on Somalia.
No group said immediately it had carried out Sunday’s attack.
The country’s main Islamist group al-Shabab, which is part of al-Qaeda, has been forced out of the main cities in the south and centre but still controls smaller towns and many rural areas.
Ten people were also injured by the explosion, BBC reporter Mohamed Ibrahim reports from the city.
Government forces had only re-opened the main roads in Mogadishu on Saturday after a four-day ban on vehicle traffic, he adds.
The ban had been aimed at preventing attacks by al-Shabab.
A Reuters news agency photographer said he could see three people lying motionless near the wreckage of four burning cars.
The London conference will discuss how best the international community can support Somalia’s progress.
More than 50 countries and organisations are due to take part when it opens on Tuesday, co-hosted by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
The UK recently re-opened its embassy in Mogadishu.
The security situation in city was thought to have been improving after two decades of conflict, despite occasional attacks.
Masked gunmen shot dead the deputy chief prosecutor, Ahmad Shaykh Nur Maalin, last month in the city centre.
Al Shabaab rebels monitor movement of Somali Christian returning from Kenya for visit.
NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – Muslim militants still controlling part of the Lower Shebelle Region of Somalia have jailed and tortured a Christian for converting from Islam, sources said.
Al Shabaab rebels seized Hassan Gulled, 25, on March 23 in Bulo Marer near Qoryoley District, they said. Gulled, who had fled to Kenya in 2007 in search of safety and a better life, had left Kenya on Feb. 27 to visit family in Somalia, sources said.
Gulled is one of dozens of Somali refugees in Kenya facing dangers from Al Shabaab extremists as they return to Somalia following the establishment of a new government in Mogadishu and the weakening of Al Shabaab, which once held large swathes of territory.
As Gulled was only visiting family in Somalia, his wife remained in an undisclosed city in Kenya. Al Shabaab extremists in Kenya who knew of his Christian activities there apparently contacted members of the militant group in Somalia, who monitored his movement for three weeks before seizing him, sources said.
“Four masked, armed militia from Al Shabaab took Gulled into a Land Cruiser and then drove away as family watched him helplessly,” said one source.
Another source said it was confirmed that Gulled has been jailed in Bulo Marer.
“The Al Shabaab have been torturing him to see whether he would deny his Christian faith,” the source said. “Since last week, no information has surfaced concerning Gulled. There is a possibility that he could have been killed.”
A militant Islamist group with ties to Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab has a base in Bulo Marer, about 50 miles from Mogadishu. Last week, however, Somali government troops backed by African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces had reportedly taken control of nearby Qoryoley. Al Shabaab has vowed to rid Somalia of Christians, who meet secretly due to persecution – besides Al Shabaab, the government and many in Somali society also view leaving Islam as deserving of death.
Gulled became a Christian in Kenya in 2010. He married there in 2011 and has no children.
“Gulled’s wife is very distressed and worried that she might not see her husband again,” a source said.
Many Somali members of Christian fellowships in Kenya have returned to Somalia after formation of a Somali government on Aug. 20, 2012, which replaced the Transitional Federal Government, said the source, who requested anonymity.
“Several Christian agencies are helping them settle,” he said. “But we are worried that some of our members are being monitored closely by Islamic extremists.”
Al Shabaab has lost control of several areas of Somalia since Kenyan military forces helped to dislodge them in the past year, but they are suspected in the shooting death of a Christian pharmacist on the outskirts of Kismayo in February. Two masked men killed Ahmed Ali Jimale, a 42-year-old father of four, on Feb. 18 as he stood outside his house in Alanley village (see Morning Star News, Feb. 28).
On Dec. 8, 2012 in Beledweyne, 206 miles (332 kilometers) north of Mogadishu, gunmen killed a Christian who had been receiving death threats for leaving Islam. Two unidentified, masked men shot Mursal Isse Siad, 55, outside his home, Muslim and Christian sources said (see Morning Star News. Dec. 14, 2012).
Siad and his wife, who converted to Christianity in 2000 according to a source who used to worship with them, had moved to Beledweyne from Doolow eight months before, after Somalia’s transitional federal government and African Union Mission in Somalia troops captured Beledweyne from Al Shabaab rebels.
The area was under government control and there was no indication that the killers belonged to the Al Shabaab rebels who have vowed to rid the country of Christianity, but the Islamic extremist insurgents were present in Buulodbarde, 20 kilometers (12 miles) away, and Christians believed a few Al Shabaab rebels could have been hiding in Beledweyne.
In the coastal city of Barawa on Nov. 16, 2012, Al Shabaab militants killed a Christian after accusing him of being a spy and leaving Islam, Christian and Muslim witnesses said. The extremists beheaded 25-year-old Farhan Haji Mose after monitoring his movements for six months, sources said (see “Morning Star News, Nov. 17, 2012).
Mose drew suspicion when he returned to Barawa, in Somalia’s Lower Shebelle Region, in December 2011 after spending time in Kenya, according to underground Christians in Somalia. Kenya’s population is nearly 83 percent Christian, according to Operation World, while Somalia’s is close to 100 percent Muslim.
© 2013 Morning Star News. Articles may be reprinted with credit to Morning Star News.
Somalia’s interior minister says that nine militants attacked Mogadishu’s Supreme Court complex and that all have been killed.
The Associated Press
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Abdikarim Hussein Guled said that six of the attackers detonated suicide vests and three others were shot and killed during Sunday’s assault on the court complex in the Somali capital.
The attack – the most serious in Mogadishu since al-Shabab militants were forced out of the city in August 2011 – lasted several hours and involved running battles with security forces.
Guled said he couldn’t immediately provide an overall death toll that included government officials and civilians.
British government warns terrorists in final stages of planning attacks in Mogadishu, following statement by Foreign Office
guardian.co.uk, Friday 5 April 2013Terrorists are in the final stages of planning attacks in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, the British government has warned.
Concerns about a possible attack were highlighted in a statement issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which already advises against all travel to Somalia.
The Foreign Office’s website states that attacks in and around Mogadishu continue to be carried out by al-Shabaab, a terrorist group, and others opposed to the Somali government.
Attacks in the past have targeted government institutions, hotels, restaurants and public transport, including the international airport.
An FCO spokesperson said: “We have amended our travel advice for Somalia. Our advice makes clear that there continues to be a high threat from terrorism and that the FCO believes that terrorists are in the final stages of planning attacks in Mogadishu. We advise against all travel to all parts of Somalia.”
“The safety of British nationals abroad is a major concern for the FCO. We therefore attach great importance to providing information about personal safety and security overseas, including an assessment of the level of threat from terrorism, to enable people to make informed decisions about travel.”
Security in Mogadishu has improved greatly since a military offensive drove Islamist rebels allied to al-Qaida out of the city in August 2011. But bombings and assassinations blamed on militants still occur often.
Last month, a suicide car bomber killed at least 10 people near Mogadishu’s presidential palace in an explosion that police said was aimed at a senior security official.
The attacker blew up his car while driving along a boulevard that runs between the palace and the national theatre.
In late September, al-Shabaab withdrew from the southern Indian Ocean port of Kismayu, its last major urban bastion in the east African state, signalling its demise as a quasi-conventional military force, but it pledged to step up a campaign of suicide bombings and hit-and-run attacks.
March 18, 2013 – Somali men carry a seriously wounded man after a car bomb blast close to the Somali government’s headquarters in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia. (AP)
Flames and smoke rose over the explosion as emergency vehicles drove to the scene. The blast happened close to the Somali government’s headquarters.
Mohamed Abdi, a police officer who was injured in the blast, said it appeared that the target of the attack was a truck of Somali intelligence officials. Abdi Mohamud Aden, a Somali police captain, said at least seven people were killed and 10 wounded. He said that number could rise.
A journalist who was wounded in the blast while sitting in a nearby restaurant said several people inside the restaurant were injured.
The Islamic extremist group al-Shabab has continued to carry out terror attacks in Somalia’s capital since being pushed out of Mogadishu in late 2011. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
The blast rattled buildings nearby, shattering glass windows. After the attack, soldiers fired in the air to try to open blocked streets so patients could get to hospitals. Inside Mogadishu’s Daru Shifa hospital, a wounded soldier cried out for aid as blood gushed from his badly wounded right leg.
“I was trying to cross the street when the blast went off,” he said. “Terrorists want to deprive us of peace,” he said, biting his lips in agony.
Shocked bystanders stared at the pools of blood on the ground at the blast site. One woman cried.
“They (al-Shabab) are the enemies of Somalia and Muslims,” she said. “They kill our children, elderly and everyone. They are brutal and inhumane and feed blood and terror with their minds.”
Al-Shabab controlled much of south-central Somalia, including Mogadishu, from 2006 to mid-2011, when African Union troops ousted the fighters from the capital. Since then al-Shabab has been on the run, as troops from Uganda, Burundi and Kenya have expanded areas under the control of the Somali government.