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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Westgate mall siege: hostage crisis over, say Kenyan officials | World news | theguardian.com

Westgate mall siege: hostage crisis over, say Kenyan officials | World news | theguardian.com

A siege at Kenya's largest shopping mall in Nairobi launched by Islamic radicals in which dozens of shoppers were killed and more than 170 were injured, appears to be finally over.

With the crisis entering its fourth day, Kenyan officials have declared that all hostages being held at the Westgate shopping mall are free. They also claimed that the Kenyan military had taken back control the building from al-Shabaab militants.

There was confusion as a series of explosions continued to detonate at the five-storey mall in the early hours of this morning.

A source quoted by the Kenyan media said that the forces involved in the siege had left the building, and that the incidents were controlled explosions as the general services unit swept the complex for remaining explosives.

There were conflicting reports about the identity of the attackers, six of whom were reported to have been killed during the siege, and a number of whom were being held in custody.

The Somali al-Shabaab Islamist group has claimed responsibility for the attack, although its claim is still being investigated by Kenyan authorities. Kenya's foreign minister, Amina Mohamed, said on Monday that two or three Americans and one female British national were among the attackers. The claim sparked fierce speculation as to whether Samantha Lewthwaite, the British woman suspected of masterminding a terrorist cell in Kenya's second largest city of Mombasa, may have taken part in the incident.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Germany votes: Which coalition? And what does it mean? | Video | Reuters.com

Germany votes: Which coalition? And what does it mean? | Video | Reuters.com

Sept. 23 - Residents frustrated with ongoing hostage crisis at upscale mall in Nairobi. Julie Noce reports.

Explosions rock besieged Nairobi mall - Africa - Al Jazeera English

Explosions rock besieged Nairobi mall - Africa - Al Jazeera English

Gunmen with assault rifles and grenades stormed the Westgate shopping mall around midday on Saturday, sending shoppers fleeing in panic.
Black smoke has been seen rising and several blasts have been heard in the area of a Nairobi shopping mall where al-Shabab fighters are holed up with hostages.
Television images on Monday showed troops in camouflage running to new positions, while an armoured personal carrier was also seen shifting position.

Journalists and their cameras have been moved and no longer have a clear sight of the mall, but can see its perimeter.
Speaking to Al Jazeera later, Abu Omar, a spokesman, for the group, ruled out any negotiations over the hostages being held and said they would meet their fate.
Al-Shabab told Al Jazeera it carried out the attack in which they specifically targeted non-Muslims. Kenyans and foreigners were among those confirmed dead, including French, Britons, Indians, Canadians, Chinese and a renowned Ghanaian poet.
The Somali group is demanding that Kenya pull troops back from its neighbour, where al-Shabab is fighting against the government.
In a live television statement late on Saturday, President Uhuru Kenyatta said that the country had "overcome terrorist attacks before" and vowed to "hunt down the perpetrators wherever they run to".
"In fact, we have fought courageously and defeated them within and outside our borders - we will defeat them again," said Kenyatta.
Kenyatta said his nephew and his fiancee were among those killed in the mall. "They shall not get away with their despicable and beastly acts," he said.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Kenya 'terror' crisis: Israeli forces join Kenya battle to end deadly mall siege; 59 killed; hostages still in play - Emirates 24/7

Kenya 'terror' crisis: Israeli forces join Kenya battle to end deadly mall siege; 59 killed; hostages still in play - Emirates 24/7

Kenyan troops backed by Israeli forces battled Sunday to end a siege in an upmarket shopping mall and free hostages held by Somali militants in an attack that has so far killed 59 people.

Sporadic gunfire could be heard as Kenyan security officials said they were attempting to kill or capture the remaining attackers and end the 26-hour-long bloodbath at the Westgate mall.

"The Israelis have just entered and they are rescuing the hostages and the injured," a Kenyan security source told AFP. The Israeli foreign ministry refused to confirm or deny its forces were involved.

Somalia's Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab rebels said the carnage at the part Israeli-owned complex was in retaliation for Kenya's military intervention in Somalia, where African Union troops are battling the Islamists.

Armed siege at Kenya shopping mall enters second day; 59 dead - World News

Armed siege at Kenya shopping mall enters second day; 59 dead - World News

An armed hostage siege at a crowded shopping mall frequented by Westerners in Nairobi, Kenya, entered its second day Sunday - with officials saying the death toll had reached 59.

American citizens, including a 26-year-old San Diego woman, were among at least 150 wounded in Saturday’s attack. Several foreigners, including a Canadian diplomat, were among the dead.
Sporadic gunfire could gunfire could be heard from the scene early Sunday.

Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku told reporters that the government believed there were 10 to 15 attackers and that security forces were still locked in a standoff.

He said 59 people had died but that efforts were underway to free other hostages, without giving details.
 
 
The militant Islamic group al-Shabab, based in neighboring Somalia, claimed responsibility for the attack via Twitter, saying it was in retaliation "for the lives of innocent Muslims" killed by Kenyan forces leading an African Union offensive against al-Shabab.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Court document references al Qaeda-linked chemical weapons program in Somalia - CBS News

Court document references al Qaeda-linked chemical weapons program in Somalia - CBS News

A new document filed in a still-developing terrorism case in New York seems to confirm the long-held fear that al Qaeda is working to develop chemical weapons.

On Wednesday, CBS News obtained a document filed by the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York indicating that three men charged with being members of the al-Shabab terrorist group in Somalia had "substantial knowledge regarding an al-Shabaab research and development department that was developing chemical weapons."

Pan-African News Wire: Somalia Federal Government Appoints Yussur Abrar As First Woman Central Bank Governor

Pan-African News Wire: Somalia Federal Government Appoints Yussur Abrar As First Woman Central Bank Governor

Somalia named Yussur Abrar as the country’s first female central bank governor, replacing Abdusalam Omer, who resigned after a United Nations monitoring group accused him of mismanaging the government’s money.

Abrar has spent the past 30 years working for international banks and insurance companies, Shador Hajji, a press officer in the presidency in the capital, Mogadishu, said by phone today. She will formally assume the role after a handover, the date of which has yet to be confirmed, he said.

Omer, who held the job for seven months, said he presented his letter of resignation “after the president told me that he was going to reshuffle all the government institutions, so before that I decided to quit,” he said in a phone interview.

Somalia’s government said on Sept. 6 that an investigation into a UN monitoring group report published in July showed its “condemnation of the Somali Central Bank Governor Abdusalam Omer’s stewardship of the bank was entirely unwarranted.”

In the self-declared state of Somaliland, ‘aid’ is a dirty word - The Globe and Mail

In the self-declared state of Somaliland, ‘aid’ is a dirty word - The Globe and Mail

Somaliland has emerged as an oasis of stability and democracy in one of the most volatile and violent regions in Africa. With five consecutive elections monitored by independent observers over the past 12 years, it has managed to create the freest economic and political systems in the Horn of Africa.
To do so, it has overcome obstacles that might seem insurmountable: poverty, isolation, civil war, high levels of illiteracy, severe shortages of natural resources and, most notably, almost no bilateral foreign aid. Somaliland’s success is so remarkable that scholars, including such global figures as U.S. political scientist Francis Fukuyama, have been wondering whether it might actually be a result of the lack of aid.
Most countries officially consider Somaliland a region under the formal authority of Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia – even though Mogadishu and the rest of southern Somalia have been consumed by war and chaos for the past two decades. Because its independence is unrecognized, Somaliland’s government does not receive any direct bilateral aid from foreign donors (although it receives some private aid).

Friday, September 20, 2013

allAfrica.com: Somalia: What the Jailing - - or Freeing - - of Aweys Means for Somalia (Page 1 of 3)

allAfrica.com: Somalia: What the Jailing - - or Freeing - - of Aweys Means for Somalia (Page 1 of 3)

Former al-Shabaab leader Hassan Dahir Aweys has been in Somali government custody for more than two months, but President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud's administration has yet to make clear whether it plans to prosecute the militant or let him go.
The 77-year-old surrendered to Himan and Heeb authorities on June 25th after fleeing factional fighting in Barawe between forces loyal to top al-Shabaab commander Ahmed Abdi Godane and second-in-command Ibrahim al-Afghani, who is now deceased.

allAfrica.com: Somalia, Italy Sign Military Training Agreement

allAfrica.com: Somalia, Italy Sign Military Training Agreement

Somali Minister of Defence Abdihakim Haji Mohamud Fiqi and his Italian counterpart Mario Mauro signed an agreement Wednesday (September 18th) under which Italy will assist in training and equipping Somali armed forces

allAfrica.com: Somalia: Aid Agencies Call On Barclays Bank to Keep Somali Lifeline Open

allAfrica.com: Somalia: Aid Agencies Call On Barclays Bank to Keep Somali Lifeline Open

Oxfam, CARE and seven other aid agencies on Monday called on Barclays Bank to scrap plans to close several money transfer accounts that provide a lifeline to millions of Somalis who depend on remittances to survive.
Barclays had planned to close a number of accounts used by Somali transfer firms in the U.K. on Tuesday because of fears the funds might end up in the hands of groups branded as terrorists, such as the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab.

allAfrica.com: InFocus » Somalia: Is Al-Shabaab Disintegrating?

allAfrica.com: InFocus » Somalia: Is Al-Shabaab Disintegrating?

Over the years Al-Shabaab has tried to present itself as a strong and united movement, however, the latest events and the ongoing conflict among its leaders reportedly shows otherwise.

allAfrica.com: InFocus » Millions Pledged for Somali Recovery

allAfrica.com: InFocus » Millions Pledged for Somali Recovery

The European Union, along with other donors, are supporting a three-year reconstruction plan called the New Deal Compact - aimed at strengthening the political system, improving security, and continuing gains made during the transition.

allAfrica.com: Somalia: President Hassan in Washington DC Ahead of the UNGA Summit.

allAfrica.com: Somalia: President Hassan in Washington DC Ahead of the UNGA Summit.

The President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, H.E Hassan Sh. Mohamud, accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Fowzia H. Yusuf Adam, Minister of Finance H.E Mohamud Hassan Suleyman, State House Minister H.E Farah Sh. Abdulakadir, and senior advisers to the President arrived in Washington DC today to meet with several high level U.S. government officials.
On this trip, President Hassan's main aim is to engage with the US government and encourage them to increase its defense and security support to the government of the Federal Republic of Somalia. The support will play a significant role in restoring peace, in Somalia.

Monday, September 9, 2013

10 Countries With the Worst Literacy Rates in the World | Care2 Causes

10 Countries With the Worst Literacy Rates in the World | Care2 Causes

774 million people aged 15 and older are illiterate, an infographic (pdf) from Unesco details. 52 percent (pdf) live in south and west Asia and 22 percent in sub-Saharan Africa. The latter region is where most of the countries with the lowest literacy rates in the world are located, according to data from the C.I.A.:
1. Burkina Faso: 21.8 percent of the adults in this West African country are literate.
2.  South Sudan: This country in east Africa, which became an independent state in 2011, has a literary rate of 27 percent.
3 Afghanistan: 28.1 percent of this country’s population are literate with a far higher percentage of men (43.1 percent) than women (12.6 percent) able to read.
4. Niger: The ratio of men to women in this landlocked western African country is also lopsided: the literacy rate is 42.9 percent for men, 15.1 percent for women and 28.7 percent overall.
5. Mali: Niger’s neighbor on the west, the literacy rate in Mali is 33.4 percent. 43.1 percent of the adult male population can read and 24.6 percent of the country’s women.
6. Chad: This west African country is Niger’s neighbor on its eastern border; 34.5 percent of its population is literate.
7. Somalia: Long beset by civil war and famine, 37.8 of Somalia’s population is literate. 49.7 percent of the adult male population is literate but only 25.8 percent of adult females.
8. Ethiopia: Somalia’s neighbor to the north, the literacy rate in Ethiopia is 39 percent.
9. Guinea: 41 percent of this west African country’s population is literate. More than half (52 percent) of adult males are literature and only 30 percent of women.
10. Benin: 42.4 percent of Benin in West Africa are literate.
Around the world, two-thirds of adults who are illiterate are female, meaning that there are 493 women unable to read and write.
54 of the 76 million illiterate young women come from nine countries, most in south and west Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa and not necessarily those with high rates of adult illiteracy: India (where almost 30 million young women are illiterate), Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Republic of Tanzania, Egypt and Burkina Faso.


Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/10-countries-with-the-worst-literacy-rates-in-the-world.html#ixzz2ePLkT1Zd

British Somalis dread 'herbal high' khat ban

British Somalis dread 'herbal high' khat ban

When Britain bans the herbal stimulant khat, Mohamod Ahmed Mohamed will lose his livelihood. But he fears most for his small Somali community without the leaf that fuels its social life.
"I can switch to another business but what about the youth, where are they going to go -- the street, the mosque, to hard drugs?" he says at his khat warehouse near London's Heathrow airport. "You are taking away their freedom. Why target us? You will never find somebody falling over on the street or fighting from khat like they do when they are drunk."

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Edmonton: Ali and Isse among new city council candidates

Edmonton: Ali and Isse among new city council candidates

Mustafa Ali, candidate for city councillor in Ward 2 and Hakin Isse, candidate for city councillor in Ward 3.

Home Sweet Home: Changing Times Bring Somali Diaspora Back | Think Africa Press

Home Sweet Home: Changing Times Bring Somali Diaspora Back | Think Africa Press

“A cappuccino here is more expensive than any other coffee in the world,” said Mohamed Ali as he addressed the audience of the second TEDx conference held in Somalia's capital.
“An espresso machine uses a lot of electricity and Mogadishu is the most expensive city in the world by kilowatt/hour,” he said, introducing the story of Ahmed, a returning diaspora member who partnered with local engineer Isse to create a coal-powered coffee machine prototype. “Ahmed now has the cheapest espresso in Mogadishu and Isse has 100 machines that he rents for $100 dollars a month.”
On August 31 a TEDx conference - the ‘ideas worth spreading’ event - was held in Mogadishu, the capital of a country that is still considered by some a ‘failed state’. Despite this, spirits were high as the speakers, mostly returning diaspora members, articulated their hopeful visions of a new Somalia.
But this time optimism was accompanied by concrete examples of change in the wake of the installation of the country's first permanent government in over two decades. There is a definite feeling that something has changed or is changing and this is bringing back some of the 1.5 million Somalis living abroad, like Ahmed, or like Ali, a US-trained human rights lawyers returning to help aspirant business men and women, especially young Somalis.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Al Shabaab bombers strike Mogadishu restaurant, 15 dead

By Abdirahman Hussein and Abdi Sheikh

Al Shabaab insurgents deployed a car bomb and a suicide bomber to attack a packed restaurant in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Saturday, killing at least 15 people and wounding 23, police and hospital officials said.

Mohamed Yusuf, spokesman for the Mogadishu authorities, said the car bomb went off first outside the popular Village Restaurant and a suicide bomber blew himself up inside immediately after.

"First a car bomb exploded at the entrance to the restaurant, and when people converged inside, a suicide bomber blew himself up," he said.

It was the second attack in a year on the restaurant, which is owned by Somali businessman Ahmed Jama, who returned to his home country from London to set up a business against the advice of friends.

"We are behind today's blasts," al Shabaab's spokesman for military operations, Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, told Reuters. "Government officials, military forces, workers and their security always meet here. We had targeted it even before today and we shall continue targeting it."

Senior police officer Ahmed Nur told Reuters that at least 15 people were killed. Hospital officials said 23 others were wounded in the attack.

A Reuters witness described mangled tables, chairs, blood and pieces of human flesh. Security forces cordoned off the area and told people to stay away for fear of more blasts.

Somalia has enjoyed relative calm after military offensives by African Union (AMISOM) peacekeepers and Ethiopian troops which have pushed al Shabaab from urban strongholds in central and southern Somalia.

Somali troops and AMISOM, comprising troops from Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and Djibouti, drove al Shabaab out of the capital in 2011.

But suicide attacks have raised concerns the militants remain a potent force and Ethiopia's sudden withdrawal in March from Hudur - the capital of Bakool province near the Ethiopian border - enabled al Shabaab to retake the town.

The United Nations, the African Union Mission and Somalia's president all condemned the attack.

"We strongly condemn the deliberate brutal blasts and we should collectively fight the terrorists. The second blast killed many civilian teenagers who wanted to help the casualties from the first blast," President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told a conference on reconciliation in Mogadishu.

Mohamud escaped unhurt on Tuesday from an ambush on his military-escorted motorcade that al Shabaab said they carried out using rocket-propelled grenades.

Mohamud's elected government has been in charge for about a year and is striving to rebuild Somalia after two decades of civil war and lawlessness triggered by the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991.

"I am appalled by this act of savagery and condemn it in the strongest terms," the U.N. Secretary General's Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, said in a statement.

"Such cruel and cowardly acts of terrorism serve to remind us that the people of Somalia desperately need peace."

(Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)


Source: Reuters