Friday, May 30, 2014

Tears of joy in Kismayu as 30 hostages held by Al-Shabaab rescued.

Mumino Haji was going about her khat selling business in Bar Aleen village on Friday May 30 when in a split of a second she suddenly turned from a free person to a prisoner after Al-Shabaab terrorists disguised as Somalia forces drew their guns and abducted 30 hostages including her.

The 30 civilian hostages were later rescued in a daring operation involving around 200 Interim Juba Administration forces (IJA) aided by AMISOM Kenya Defence Forces air surveillance capability.

The first rumors after the hostages were snatched away by Al-Shabaab indicated that they were driven towards the Al-Shabaab stronghold of Jilib, but in reality many of hostages were actually taken in a string of kidnapping sprees along the way as the militants kept on filling up the two minivans they had first abducted Mumina and two other women from Bar Aleen.

By the time the kidnappers drove 20 km away from Kismayu the number of hostages had swelled to 30 and by then they were plotting how to escape from the Juba forces dragnet which was hot in the heels in pursuit of hostages.

Thanks to the aerial surveillance capability of AMISOM Kenyan Defence Forces, the kidnaper’s hideout was immediately spotted by the high flying Kenyan drone which relayed the message to the tactical information center in Kismayu which passed the message to the dozens of heavily armed Juba security forces trailing the kidnappers.
The kidnappers finally fled after the heavily armed Juba forces spotted them in the village of Jiirmalay 40 km from Kismayu leaving behind the 30 hostages who were immediately found unhurt and were secured by the advancing forces.

“We thank God and our forces for rescuing us. I had even said my last prayers knowing that it was my last day on earth. I cannot even believe am still alive because it is very rare to see a Somali captive released by Al-Shabaab as they always kill Somalis captives and release foreigners whose families are rich to pay ransom,” Mumina said as tears of joy dripped off her cheeks.

Immediately after they kidnapped the 30 hostages, they drove under duress towards the Al-Shabaab stronghold of Jilib using back routes but thanks to AMISOM KDF air surveillance detected their movement and shared the information shared with IJA forces that immediately surrounded the area forcing the terrorists to flee leaving behind the 30 civilians unhurt.

The 30 freed hostages were brought to Kismayu in a convoy of over 15 vehicles as many of their relatives and friends come out to welcome them amid ululation, jubilation and tears of joy.

The hostages, all of who were women and men khat vendors, kidnapped from various locations around Kismayu on the same day said while they were under captivity the terrorists kept threatening to slit their throat or cutting off their limbs accusing them of spying for the Somalia government and AMISOM.

“We were ambushed by Al-Shabaab militia in a place called Qandal. They were almost ten in number. They kidnaped us and confiscated our cellphones and drove us far taking us round and round all-day. We don’t know where they took us. The soldiers later rescued us,” Mohamed Ahmed, one of the hostages said.

Brigadier General Ismail Sahardid, the Chief of Staff for the Interim Juba Administration in Kismayu, which is a federal state within Somalia, thanked AMISOM and the local community for their support in tracking down the Al-Shabaab kidnappers and finally rescuing the hostages.

“Our forces were supported by AMISOM aerial surveillance. After tracking the kidnapers at long last with the help of the God we successfully rescued the civilian hostages who numbered 30. We burnt one vehicle of the Al-Shabaab kidnapers,” the Brigadier General said, speaking in Kismayu after the forces safely rescued the hostages.

Al-Shabaab terrorist have resorted to such cowardly acts of kidnappings and extortion rackets in order to make quick dirty money to fund their callous activities since losing out most of their major economic hubs like Kismayu, Marka and other cities in Somalia that have since been liberated by joint AMISOM and Somalia forces.

Back in Kismayu, as the hostages finally reunited with their loved ones, women cuddled and shared tears of joy together while the men raised their clinched fists as a sign of victory for the rare rescue operation not so common in Somalia.
Thursday, May 29, 2014

Canadian family donates kit to an airport marshaller in Somalia

In a rare gesture of kindness, a Canadian family donated airport gear to a Kismayu airport marshaller after they were moved by his story of working without proper gear which was published in the African Union Peacekeepers in Somalia, AMISOM twitter page in January.

Canadian economist, Sean Paterson from Salmon in British Colombia who is a chief technical advisor working for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO,) says after reading the story of 63 year old Adan Mohamed his 14 year old son Noah Jordan asked him what they could do for the poor old Somalia airport marshaller.

The story moved Sean and his son Noah so much that they decided to buy the kits themselves.

They spent $ 35 Canadian dollars to buy a reflector jacket, a pair of reflector gloves and paint and used some of their free time to make two luminous red reflector sticks using wood for Mohamed Adan, the marshaller to use for directing planes during taxing and take off at the Kismayu international airport in southern Somalia.

“I told my son Noah we could buy Adan Mohamed the kit and so we went to a local supermarket and grabbed him a reflector jacket, a pair of gloves. Since he works during the day we thought he would not need a light reflector and so we made him two sticks using wood and painted it luminous red for him to use to direct plane instead of using his bare hands,” Sean said, moments after handing over the kit to Adan in Kismayu, a southern port city located along the Indian Ocean.

Before he received the gifts, Adan used his bare hands to direct planes and had no gloves or even a reflector jacket endangering his own life especially during foggy weather during the rainy season when visibility is so low forcing him to be careful not to be hit by the planes he is directing.

Adan was elated with the presents and gesture.

“I cannot explain how I feel because I have never received a present in my life. It is so kind of them to remember me thousands of miles away and bring me these gifts. I have worked at this airport for the last 23 years under very hard and tough moments under 17 different administrations. The only thing that makes me happy is that this administration in control now wants to bring change and development and that is what keeps me going,” the 43 year old slim Adan said, barely speaking out of excitement.

Since then, pilots flying into Kismayu international airport have already noticed the difference after Adan started using the kit he was given by Sean.

“I noticed a difference with Adan today. I clearly saw the reflector sticks and his jacket and I was actually wondering whether it was him,” One pilot who did not give his name said.

Sean, who is an economist by profession, says his family is happy to help in whatever little way they can.

“The 35 Canadian dollars and the time we spent in making him the reflector sticks is really nothing compared to the feeling of doing something good or helping improve someone’s life or work. We are really glad we made a difference in Adan’s life and you never know maybe someone working in a real airport might read this story and decide to help Adan or any of the airport staff in Kismayu or Somalia because information is power and reaches far and wide, just like it reached me in Canada,” Sean added.

Kismayu is a southern port city in Somalia that is known for its farmlands and white pristine beaches. Just like the rest of chaotic Somalia, in the last few years the city witnessed brutal war as different warlords and militia groups fought over the control of the city’s international airport and seaport.

The last group to be wrestled out of the seaside city is the Somalia militant group Al-Shabaab linked to Al-Qaeda. In September 29 2012, a combined force of Somalia forces and Kenyan military recaptured Kismayu from Al-Shabaab after months of fighting.
Since then, Somalia forces and AMISOM peacekeepers from Kenya, Sierra Leon and Burundi continue to maintain peace in the city opening it up to international and local investment as natives return to invest back home.