Thursday, October 13, 2011 0 comments

Jerry Rawlings visits Somalia, condemns extremist attack

Mogadishu, Oct 13 – Former Ghanaian President Jerry Rawlings who is the African Union High Representative for Somalia visited Mogadishu to console bereaved families of a recent suicide attack as well as to inspire the government to keep up with its political and military transformation in order to prepare the country for elections scheduled for August next year.

Speaking after meeting Somali President Sheikh Sharif and Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali as well as AMISOM commanders, Rawlings noted that Mogadishu is slowly recovering from the protracted war and condemned a recent suicide attack in Mogadishu by Al-Shabaab extremists which killed over 80 people and wounded more than 100 others. Most of the fatalities were Somali students hoping to pursue further studies in Turkey.

“My main reason for coming was to come and express my condolence to the parents through the government for those who lost their lives and to actually make them understand that this kind of cowardly and brutal behavior by the extremists is an admission of their military failure and this is why they had to resort to picking on some target, to picking on innocents which am afraid will only cost them politically,” Rawlings said after his one day visit to Mogadishu before away.

The former Ghanian leader said that he discussed with Somali leaders about the ongoing peace efforts and hopes to see Somali politicians coming together to steer the country past the current transition period which is impeding the much needed reconstruction efforts the war ravaged country badly needs.

“The military push seems to be far ahead of the political move, the political transformation, the political process that should be taking place. The sooner we close the gap the better it will be for all of us. I think in itself will generate a very healthy atmosphere among the public that we are serious about going through the transition and ending the transition as early as possible so that we can have a nationally elected institutions into the executive offices,” He said, referring to the recent military successes by Somali forces and AU peacekeepers against Al-Shabaab militants who have now been pushed out of the city.

Mr. Rawlings, whose first visit in January coincided with a humanitarian catastrophe as a result of a severe drought, said that he was pleased with the humanitarian response but called for robust mechanism to make sure the aid reaches the worst affected regions in south and central Somalia.

The pathetic conditions of tens of thousands of Somalis affected by a severe drought in Somalia many of who have fled into Mogadishu and living in squalid camps with little food or medical care has attracted world attention prompting many leaders to visit Somalia in a bid to show solidarity with the affected population.

“There is a much healthier atmosphere in terms of the social and economic activity. There is a very busy environment which I think reflects a very healthy sign. Some areas are receiving the necessary humanitarian assistance and medication but it is how to get the aid into the needy areas in the hinterland that really matters now,” he added.

The 63 year old former President of Ghana was named as the Africa Union’s High Representative to Somalia in October 2010 and tasked with mobilizing the continent and the rest of the international community to fully assume its responsibilities and contribute more actively to the quest for peace, security and reconciliation in Somalia.

He believes African countries are positively contributing towards helping Somalia attain peace but calls upon more support in order to help the once powerful country of Somalia to stand on its feet and claim its rightful place among other nations.

“There is a lot of hope otherwise Africans would not have deployed their troops on the ground suffering, sacrificing and dying for fellow Somalians to see a nation stand back on its feet. In terms of the contributions that also took place I think it is a very healthy sign that this is the first time we have embarked on this kind of request for Africans to give up themselves and I think they have done pretty well. It may not be that much but it is a beginning,” Rawlings added with a smile looking relaxed.
Friday, October 7, 2011 0 comments

Somalia suicide bomber aimed for maximum damage

Mogadishu - Bishar Abdullahi Nur, the man who exploded himself in Mogadishu last Tuesday killing 72 people and who wounded over a hundred others in a suicide attack at a government compound housing several ministries, says he aimed for maximum damage. He believed his target housed government top secrets and top commanders, the 28-year-old suicide bomber said in an audio message recorded hours before he carried out the attack.

Among those he killed were students and their parents checking out results of a Turkish scholarship and many innocent civilians going about their business in Mogadishu’s busiest road close to the famous K4 junction. Al Shabaab immediately claimed responsibility for the attack claiming that they killed government security personnel and warned civilians from going to government offices because many more suicide bombers are on the way.

“If we inflict maximum damage to the enemy, then we thank Allah. That is what we wanted and hoped for, if ministers die, we kill commanders and infidels or destroy documents and letters because we are told there are so many secrets there of the apostate government. We hope this will be the beginning and the mujahideens will gain victory from our act,” Bishar said, responding to a question posed by another possible Al Shabaab reporter who did not give his name.

Asked to describe his feelings just hours before going to explode himself, Bishar calmly says he is happy and is ready to meet his God but still asks Somalis to pray for him. The planning and execution of the attack as well as the audio message carries all the hallmarks of Al Qaeda and reaffirms the link between Al Shabaab militants in Somalia and their global masters, Al-Qaeda, whom they always wish to please.
The audio was posted in an Al Shabaab website where the militants post their propaganda messages.

Al Shabaab militants in Mogadishu control several radio stations, most of which they confiscated from private companies which they also use to spread their propaganda aimed at wooing many Somalis youngsters at joining their unholy cause. Bishar was born and raised in Mogadishu’s Hamar jadiid and Gubta neighbourhoods. In the audio he also spoke about the biting drought, urging wealthy Somalis to help their needy brothers and at the same time criticising humanitarian agencies and the UN of using food to Christianise the Muslim majority Somalis. He says their aim is to free the Muslims and hope what he was about to do will be a catalyst for Al Shabaab victory against the Somali government and their African Union backers.

He even compared himself to Mohamed Attam, accused by US authorities of leading the 9/11 attacks, saying that those who attacked America were mujahideens like him and praying to Allah to accept his martyrdom mission. “These men did not go to America to get worldly possessions, they did not go there to rule America and they did not go for purposes of ruling the world... We are not going in order to get wealth, we are not going in order to get a name, we are not going in order to be told so and so is brave, we are going because we want Allah to be pleased with us,” the would-be-suicide bomber said referring to Mohamed Attam and the other suspected Al Qaeda militants who targeted several US cities on September 11, 2001.

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed expressed shock and condemned Al Shabaab, saying the militants will not stop the Somali people from living in peace and that their 'holy war' has nothing to do with Islam. “I am extremely shocked and saddened by this cruel and inhumane act of violence against the most vulnerable in our society. I would like to send my deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims and the people of Somalia, I pray for the dead and speedy recovery for the injured,” President Sharif said.

He added that the attack was launched by Al-Shabab/Al-Qaeda and that it was “set on destroying the country and any hope for its people’s future. Al-Shabab is an enemy of the Somali people and an enemy of the future stability of Somalia.” Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage confirmed that the group had carried out the attack. The Turkish government which had offered scholarships to most of the killed or wounded students evacuated 37 of the most severely injured people for treatment while many others are still receiving treatment in the government run Madina hospital and a hospital managed by the African Union peacekeepers.

Mogadishu residents are still trying to come to terms with what happened and many of them believe the attack will further alienate Al Shabaab from the society. As if to show their resilience to such attacks, residents are seen going about their businesses as if nothing happened around the streets close to the scene of the attack.

“Al Shabaab can kill a million of our people if they want but it will not change our perception of their murderous gang. We are tired of their bloodletting tactics and their cowardly attack on civilians. If they are men enough they should confront the soldiers in the frontline and not kill women and children who have nothing to do with the war,” an angry Nurto Muse, a mother whose son was wounded in the attack said.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011 0 comments

Al-Shabaab strikes again, killing innocent civilians.

Mogadishu, October 4 - An Al-Shabaab suicide bomber driving a truck laden with explosives and petrol exploded at a government premise housing several ministries in the busy K4 area of Mogadishu killing scores of people and injuring nearly a hundred others.

The explosion occurred around mid morning at a time when traffic is heavy at a road opposite the targeted government premise housing several ministries including offices for the Higher education ministry where students and their parents were waiting for their examination results for scholarships offered by the Turkish government.

This is another brazen attack by Al-Shabaab, who had the audacity to claim responsibility of killing innocent children, women and men. The attack was expected, since when Al-Shabaab forces withdrew from most of their positions in the various frontlines in Mogadishu.

One Mogadishu resident was survived the attack could not understand what Al-Shabaab hopes to gain from such a cowardly attack against civilians.

"I was less than 100 meters from the attacked position. The intensity of the attacked pushed me to a wall. The scene was all bloody with limbs and body parts everywhere. What I don't understand is what these terrorist hope to gain by killing their own brothers, sisters and mothers. Whatever their intention, they should know that we will never forget this heinous attack. They are our enemies," Bule Abdi said, still disturbed by the bloody attack.

The government later issued a statement saying 15 people died and 20 wounded. Meanwhile Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility of the attack.

Today's attacked comes after nearly a month of clam in Mogadishu,, where gun are conspicuously silent following the Al-Shabaab withdrawal in August.
Sunday, October 2, 2011 0 comments

Twin celebrations for Nigerian Police in Somalia.

Mogadishu October 2 – As millions of Nigerians celebrated their 51st Independence Day anniversary, eight police officers from Nigeria serving in Somalia enjoyed a twin celebration thousands of miles away in Mogadishu after being decorated for serving in the Africa Union peacekeeping mission, AMISOM.

The eight police officers, Assistant Commissioner Isaac Sunday Obafaye, Chief Superintendent Nasiru Mohammed, Superintendent Saluna Muntua Saleh, Superintendent Nana Garba Bature, Deputy Superintendent Augustine Egim, Assistant Superintendent Marcus Nyams Bako, Assistant Superintendent Maryam Hamman and Inspector Ruth Ade Makinwa received gold plated medals courtesy of AMISOM for their dedication and service to the Somali police force.

The Somali Police Force like many other institutions in Somalia did not survive the bloody civil war in the Horn of African country after the ouster of former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, who incidentally died in Lagos, Nigeria while in exile there on January 2, 1995.

The medals ceremony coincided with Nigeria’s 51st Independence Day celebrations, which the officers from Nigeria, celebrated in style in the still silence of Mogadishu, a city ravaged by clan and ideological wars in the past two decades. In the recent past months though, the city has enjoyed a relative peace following the defeat of Al-Shabab militants by AMISOM peacekeepers and Somali forces.

The twin party in Mogadishu started with a parade mounted by the smartly dressed Nigerian police officers consisting of four women officers and four male officers who patriotically sang and saluted as their national anthem reverberated in the background with the green, white and green national flag of Nigeria flying high next to Somalia’s Sky Blue flag and the green flag of the African Union.

Each of the officers was then decorated with a gold plated medal by Mr. Wafula Wamunyinyi, the Deputy African Union Special Representative in Somalia at the AMISOM Force headquarters in camp Halane, next to the sea side Aden Ade International airport in Mogadishu.

The Nigerian police contingent later hosted Mr. Wamunyinyi, the AMISOM Force Commander Major General Fred Mugisha and other senior AMISOM military and police officers from across Africa at a well decorated mess where guests broke the kola nut in accordance with Nigerian traditions amid drinks and chocolates with the history of Africa’s most populous nation beaming from a computer aided screen.

“The kola nut is grown in the west, adored in the east and eaten in the north of Nigeria. In our culture in Nigeria, the breaking of kola nuts comes before any celebrations including funeral ceremonies. It is therefore our pleasure to request our dear prince and our Nigerian Police contingent commander to break the kola nut to mark our twin celebrations of decoration by AMISOM as well as our 51st independence celebration,” Master of Ceremony Deputy Superintendent Augustine Egim, who is also the AMISOM Police spokesman said.

The kola nuts were imported all the way from Nigeria specifically for the twin celebrations together with specially designed Nigerian attires which were handed to the guest of honour Mr. Wamunyinyi as well as the AMISOM Force Commander Major General Fred Mugisha and two other guests seated at the high table.

“Nigeria strongly contributes towards the African Union and has participated in many peacekeeping missions in Africa. We wish to congratulate the people of Nigeria during their 51st independence anniversary celebration and urge them to continue their much-needed efforts in making Africa a better and safer place for us all, “ the AU Deputy Representative to Somalia, Mr. Wamunyinyi said.

AMISOM Force Commander Maj. Gen Mugisha said terrorism does not know borders by reminding the people of Africa on the destruction and deaths that continues to be carried out by terror gangs in both Somalia and Nigeria courtesy of Al-Shabaab and the Boko Haram terrorist organizations respectively.

“African countries cannot just watch as Somalia slips further into chaos because no country is safe from terrorism. We know Al-Shabaab militants help and train Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria. We thank our big brother Nigeria for sending their police to come and train their Somali brothers but we believe Nigerian military should also join us here to stem out terrorism from Somalia before it spreads.” The general noted.

Later after dusk though, the flamboyantly proud Nigerian police officers in Mogadishu danced and enjoyed their twin celebrations at their AMISOM Police quarters, where they live with other police officers from Sierra Leone, Ghana and Uganda.

“I wish to urge African women to push their men and leaders to help the Somali people. We cannot enjoy as our sisters and children in Somalia languish in poverty and war, it is not fair at all,” Superintendent Saluna Muntua Saleh said, looking relaxed and happy.

The young and old freely mingled after a light dinner of lamb chops, goat meat and potatoes served by the four Nigerian women police officers who downed their colourful West African dresses.

The music and dance that accompanied the dinner did not disappoint either. West African music dominated the night with almost everyone in attendance swinging a leg every time Nigerian musical darling Flavour’s song Ashawo hit the airwaves.

“It is good to dance and enjoy our decoration and our independence day in Mogadishu. We have come to Somalia to help our brothers and sisters get out of the current problems. We wish to assure our people back home that we are well and that we dully represent them in Somalia,” Nigerian Police Contingent Commander and Assistant Commissioner of Police Isaac Sunday Obafaye said.

His Deputy Nasiru Mohammed is touched by the impact of the war in Mogadishu and remembers the great old days when Somalia was a powerful country in Africa that has a rich culture.

“Somalia’s problem is a challenge to the whole of Africa. Africa must come together to help this great country called Somalia. I remember in 1977 when Somalia attended a cultural event in Nigeria and actually won it. We must never accept to see such a great nation go to waste,” he said, sweat dripping off his face from dancing to the rigorous and demanding Nigerian tunes.