Monday, August 27, 2012

Somali army sets its sights on Kismayo

By Adnan Hussein in Mogadishu

July 23, 2012

The Somali army, backed by African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces, is poised to take control of towns and rural villages in Lower Juba as it marches towards the strategic city and al-Shabaab-stronghold of Kismayo.
  • Somali and African Union forces advance towards the al-Shabaab-controlled port city of Kismayo. [Stuart Price/AFP/AU-UN IST] Somali and African Union forces advance towards the al-Shabaab-controlled port city of Kismayo. [Stuart Price/AFP/AU-UN IST]
Major General Abdikarim Yusuf Dhegobadan said he expects his forces to purge Kismayo, Somalia's third-largest city located 500 kilometres south of Mogadishu, of al-Shabaab by August.
Dhegobadan told Sabahi that the terrorists are fleeing their hideouts as Somali forces advance.
He called on residents to evacuate areas under al-Shabaab control and move away from locations that contain weapons caches.
"Kismayo is a symbol for the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which is why it is trying to take over the city," he said.
According to parliamentarian Mohamed Omar Gedi, al-Shabaab's extremism and crimes against humanity, which have included assassinations of Muslim scholars, intellectuals and whoever opposes their deviant beliefs, have gone too far.
Gedi said the Somali army will soon crush the terrorists and that al-Qaeda-allied al-Shabaab is on its deathbed.
"Our troops have made progress in the latest confrontations and senior leaders of the radical group and their militias have been stricken with fear," he told Sabahi. "We will take control of Kismayo as new fighting breaks out and the raging fires engulf [the enemy]. We will be victorious and will prevail."
Somali military officials said the army's operations will likely expand towards Lower Juba after the TFG mobilises its military towards Marka, the capital of Lower Shabelle and Jowhar, the capital of Middle Shabelle.
Deputy Minister of Air, Sea, and Land Transportation and Ports Abdirahman Kulmiye Hirsi said the government's capture of Kismayo, al-Shabaab's largest remaining stronghold, will be a fatal blow to the group.
"Our forces will intensify security and attack campaigns targeting the bases of these groups in several locations in the regions of Gedo, Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle and Lower Juba to secure ports and roads and allow the delivery of aid and medical assistance to people affected by diarrhoea and cholera, which have lately become epidemics," he told Sabahi.
Former AMISOM spokesman Major Paddy Ankunda revealed a comprehensive plan to take over Kismayo so that aid can be distributed and residents can lead a normal life.
Ankunda told reporters in Mogadishu that people will soon hear good news about Kismayo.

Al-Shabaab harasses Kismayo residents

Kismayo residents say they suffer from financial hardship, water scarcity, electricity outages, and food and medicine shortages due to al-Shabaab's grip on the city, and live in constant fear that the group will carry out retaliatory attacks as Somali and AMISOM forces approach.
Anab Mohamed Musa, 36, said she fled Kismayo five months ago after al-Shabaab forbade her from selling qat, which is legal in Somalia, to support her three children.
"Most doctors, relief workers, journalists and even students that studied English in the city who were accused of spying for Western intelligence agencies had to flee," she told Sabahi. "The rebel group monitored cell phone calls through local telecommunications companies so they could listen in on conversations and carry out assassinations and thwart plots hatched against the group."
Kismayo resident Abbas Mohamed told Sabahi that al-Shabaab fighters stopped a number of elderly citizens from travelling to Mogadishu to receive essential medical care as part of the group's efforts to prevent residents from fleeing to areas under TFG control.
He said al-Shabaab also harasses women, imposes strict dress codes and bans them from working.
Mohamed said al-Shabaab forced most of Kismayo's men to bear arms and train for guerrilla warfare, and imposed their style of dress so there would be no discernible difference between civilians and militants.
Al-Shabaab has also recruited women and girls to carry out attacks, he said, and during the past three years, they have given away prizes in the form of Kalashnikov rifles and hand grenades to children who memorised the Qur'an.
Mohamed said the people have a hatred of al-Shabaab's behaviour and aggression.
"The militants of the group allied with al-Qaeda planned for and executed horrendous acts that have disgraced humanity, such as stoning to death a girl for adultery who was not yet a teenager," he said. "This was committed without a full investigation of the charge [brought against her] and without full medical tests to determine her sanity and physical wellbeing." 

Nigeria: We're Talking With Boko Haram - Presidency

Leadership (Abuja)

The federal government and Boko-Haram are engaged in talks on how to bring the group's insurgency to an end. This is even as the sect is suspected to have different factions, the Presidency said.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, who disclosed this in Abuja, yesterday, urged Nigerians to disregard any controversy on whether or not there was dialogue going on and focus on efforts to reach Boko Haram.
He said that those who think such dialogue involved face to face meeting in which government officials and members of the Boko Haram sect sit on opposite sides of a table miss the point.
The Presidential spokesman said that what President Goodluck Jonathan needed as he tackled the issue was their support.
The group had, last week, denied engaging in any talks with representatives of the federal government and stated that an earlier press statement confirming an ongoing dialogue by one Abu Muhammad, who claimed to be the second in Command to the sect's leader, Abubakar Shekau was false.
But Abati insisted , "When government says it is already talking to Boko Haram, the form of that dialogue must be properly understood. I think a lot of people are under the impression that the dialogue involves a situation whereby government officials are sitting on one side, Boko Haram persons are sitting on the other side in an air-conditioned room and there are negotiations across the table. That is not the form of the dialogue.
"The form of the dialogue is that back room channels are being used to reach across with the sole objective of understanding what exactly the grievances of these persons are, what exactly can be done to resolve the crises, in the overall best interest of ensuring peace and stability in Nigeria and the security of life and property. "All of this is consistent with the position of Mr. President. So what is called dialogue is at many levels: through back room channels and through multi-level, constructive interventions to address a difficult issue that is multifarious.
Clarifying on Boko Haram's denial of an on-going dialogue, Abati said, "one thing that is noteworthy is that the Boko Haram spokesperson made it clear that they were prepared to go a step further to ensure that persons who are using the name of Boko Haram for political and criminal purposes are identified and checked. What that original statement indicated was that indeed Boko Haram has many faces. It confirms that this thing called Boko Haram is such a multifaceted phenomenon. The true situation has already been stated by the Honourable Minister of Information on two different occasions.
"First in an interview, second through a press release, namely that the Federal Government is involved in dialogue with Boko Haram. You will recall that what led to this is that a spokesperson for Boko Haram issued a statement confirming that government and some leaders of Boko Haram were already discussing; in that particular statement the issues being looked at were clearly identified.
"You will recall that in one instance, during a Presidential Media chat, President Jonathan had made it clear that the Boko Haram phenomenon, the terror phenomenon in Nigeria, is quite a novel phenomenon and that many of the persons involved in the low level insurgency are not known, they have not come forward. However if such persons should come forward, government will grant them a listening ear to know what it is that they are after.
"Again the President is on record, as having made it clear that government's approach to checking the Boko Haram insurgency is at many levels. The available option according to Mr President is not solely one of military action or police action and it is on the basis of this that he had reached out to leaders of political thought in the parts of the country that are affected.
"There is even a third level of intervention, the economic and social level of intervention. In this regard, President Jonathan has made it clear that many of the efforts being directed towards the affected parts of the country are meant, in fact to redirect the energies of the youths and this is the whole point of using the agricultural sector to transform lives, to create wealth, to create a value chain, the end of which is to create jobs and to engage young people more effectively.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nigeria: Sponsors of Boko Haram Urged to Join FG in Nation Buiding

Vanguard (Lagos) 7 November 2011

Asaba — Alhaji Ibrahim Gero, leader of the Hausa Community in Delta, has urged the sponsors of Boko Haram, the militant Islamic sect, to have a re-think and work with the Federal Government in rebuilding the nation.
Gero, who spoke on Monday, in Asaba, was reacting to the recent bomb blasts in Yobe and Borno.
He condemned the blasts, noting that Islam is holy.
Gero described the killings as barbaric and man's inhumanity to man, saying that the Eid-el-Kabir was a time to show love among Muslims.
He urged religious tolerance between Muslims and Christians, stressing that the two religions were the same.
The community leader pledged the support of the Hausa to the realisation of the goals of the present administration in the country.
Meanwhile, some Muslim faithful in Asaba have resumed business on a skeletal scale.
Some of them said that the Eid-el-Kabir was on Sunday, arguing that there was no point for them to stay at home.
The Federal Government declared Nov. 7 and Nov. 8 as public holidays to mark the Eid-el-Kabir