updated 7:50 PM MDT, May 24, 2017

Car bomb blasts in Somalia's capital at least 7 killed

MOGADISHU, Somalia — A massive car bomb blast at a restaurant in Somalia's capital killed at least seven people, police said Wednesday, as fears grew that al-Shabab extremists who have vowed to destabilize the country's new government were behind it.

Several others were injured in the blast near the ministries of internal security and youth and sports in Mogadishu, Col. Ahmed Hashi said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. However, the al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremist group al-Shabab group often carries out such attacks.

The powerful blast largely destroyed the restaurant. Police pulled the bloodied body of a man from the rubble and said there may be more. Soldiers pushed back a surging crowd and fired in the air to disperse people.

  • Written by Abdullahi

Somalia:Multi-million dollar deal for Somaliland's historic port sparks land rush

Former fishing hall in Berbera, Somaliland, on 24 March 2017. Photo: TRF-Tom Gardner

BERBERA, Somaliland - The lands along the road into Berbera is barren and empty. Somaliland's small, rusty Gulf of Aden port which for centuries made the town prosperous rises suddenly out of the ground as the road hits the coast.

The crumbling town has languished for decades, but its fortunes look set to change following a multi-million dollar deal to revamp the port which has triggered a rush to buy land.

Berbera, along the coast from Djibouti, has been a backwater since 1991 when Somaliland broke away from Somalia following a bloody civil war.

    READ: UN chief urges 'massive response' to avert Somali famine

The town's buildings, some dating back to the Ottoman era, stand neglected. Unemployment is rampant, exacerbated by a devastating drought that has decimated livestock, a backbone of the export economy.

But last September Somaliland's government signed its largest-ever investment deal which could allow Berbera to become a major trading hub for goods to and from the Horn of Africa.

The development will be carried out by DP World, a multinational port operator from the United Arab Emirates, which has valued the project at more than $400 million. The deal was followed by another with the UAE, signed in March, for a military base a few kilometres down the road.

Locals and investors believe Berbera is on the brink of an economic boom that will make the town wealthy once more.

Adan Abokor, a researcher at the Rift Valley Institute in the capital Hargeisa, says the project has sparked a "land rush", as diaspora Somalilanders and wealthy businessmen from nearby regions flock to buy a piece of the town.

Though the surrounding land appears deserted, brick foundations enclose recently demarcated plots from the airport to the coast. Freshly built walls sprout into the distance.

"There has been more building in the last two years than in the whole period from 1991," said Jimale Abdulahi, a local government official.

But not all residents are happy.

Land tensions

Land has long caused trouble throughout Somaliland, and is behind the majority of violent incidents recorded in towns and cities, the Hargeisa-based Academy for Peace and Development (APD) reported in 2010.

READ: Somali president pleads to UN for aid to avert famine

Clan disputes have for years been drivers of conflict, aggravated by the destruction or loss of legal documentation during the civil war, leading to competing for title claims.

Despite the existence of a national land law since 2001, clan ownership is still seen as the dominant, if unofficial property ownership system throughout most of the country.

In Berbera, the Ise Musa clan has dominated local politics since the late 1990s, and some fear the arrival of outsiders will threaten this.

Sayeed "Sonny" Sayeed, a young resident, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that many in the town are suspicious of the port deal, suspecting the plans will alter Berbera's clan composition.

"People from other regions want to take over," he said. "If they move here then new people will be born in this place so that they can vote here."

His friend, Ahmed Nazal, said returning members of the diaspora were welcome, but only if they originally hailed from the area.

"If not, they should go and invest in their own regions," he said.

Others who spoke to the Thomson Reuters Foundation disagreed, saying diaspora investment would be good for the town.

"These lands were empty, no one was investing here," said Salelan Adel, a young unemployed man.

"It will give locals the chance to finally develop the lands that we own."

Simmering unease

The port deal has also highlighted other tensions, with the role of the local council targeted for particular criticism.

Unlike many other major towns in Somaliland, Berbera's government controls swathes of land, including a 70-km (44 miles) "free zone" around the port.

This undeveloped land had been reserved for use by the port but has been hurriedly allocated to newcomers since the DP World deal was signed, according to locals and Hargeisa-based experts.

"It is being sold off without clear procedures and guidelines," said Mohamed Farah, director of the APD think tank. Critics say most of this land has been allocated to those with government connections.

"What we are seeing is land grabbing," said Ahmed Hussein Esse, president of Abaarso Tech University in Hargeisa. There is now almost no public land left in Somaliland, he added.

Local official Abdulahi confirmed the council had been distributing public land, including parts of the "free zone", but said it had done so transparently.

Last summer it allocated plots to more than 700 Somalilanders returning from abroad, in a special area to be turned into a European-style village, he said.

However some worry that poorer residents will be driven out as the town gentrifies.

The average price of a 12 by 12-metre plot has more than doubled since last year, reaching $100,000 in places along the coast.

"The makeup of Berbera will definitely change," said Mohamed Aden Hassan, head of news channel StarTV. "It is already showing signs of becoming an increasingly exclusive club."

Jama Musse Jama, head of the Red Sea Cultural Foundation in Hargeisa, said if poorer residents felt excluded from development "then for the first time the risk is of class rather than clan conflict".

New land rules

The government has now embarked on the creation of a National Land Policy which aims to bring clarity to the country's overlapping systems of tenure while clearing out corruption in local land administration.

But for many Berbera residents, the most pressing concern is jobs.

"DP World has brought order to the port, but it hasn't brought salaries," said Yusuf Heebed, a guard at the port since 1977.

Last month workers demonstrated against wage cuts brought in by the new operator and 280 have been laid off.

Young men like Adel and his friends are still hopeful that investment will bring employment, though they worry that foreigners might be given preference.

"If the new deals do not bring the promised prosperity to Berbera, there will be real anger," said local journalist Mahmoud Hassan.


  • Written by Abdullahi

Somalia: Somali pirates hijack Indian Cargo Ship

.Somali pirates seized an oil tanker with a crew of 11 Indian on 1 april in the second successful hijacking  in this year 2017

Indian Cargo Ship, on its p route from Dubai to  Yemen’s Al Mukala port  
The captain of the ship had informed the authorities in Dubai
Authorities in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland have confirmed.

Puntland's deputy Minister for ports, Mohammud Gabbah, confirmed the hijacking to Media

There are conflicting reports about where the ship was heading from and to.

"We understand Somali pirates hijacked a commercial Indian ship and [it is heading] towards Somalia's shores," Abdirizak Mohamed Dirir, a former director of Puntland's anti-piracy agency told Reuters news agency.

Somalis consider piracy again, blaming illegal fishing trade,
many Somali pirates had quit and turned to fishing as anti-piracy patrols increased, but local officials have warned that rampant fishing by foreign trawlers is destroying the fishermen's livelihoods and stoking fears of a return of piracy

More details soon

  • Written by Abdullahi

Somalia and the African Union mission seek to open main supply routes for relief access

MOGADISHU, April 4 (Xinhua) -- Somalia and the African Union mission have kicked off discussions aimed at opening main supply routes to ease access to humanitarian aid in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa nation.

Senior African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) officials are holding talks with government officials on the modalities of opening and securing main supply routes to help facilitate delivery of humanitarian aid to drought stricken communities in the country.

Rashid Abdullahi Mohamed, Minister of Defence, said Somalia National Army (SNA) will ensure humanitarian relief reaches residents affected by the drought.

He said the initiative will help alleviate the humanitarian crisis and save thousands of lives.

"I think that the plan presented was very amazing and we do really appreciate, if it is implemented," Mohamed said in a statement issued in Mogadishu by AU mission on Tuesday.

"I believe we will have a realistic outcome to support and mobilize the country and allow free movement, better protection and better access for both economic improvement and protection of the community that has been affected by the drought," said Mohamed.

Aid agencies say the poor state of main supply routes in south-central Somalia had provided conditions for Al-Shabaab to continue laying ambushes and use explosive devices against AMISOM convoys and Somali national security forces.

AMISOM Chief Operations Officer, Col. Mutacho Othieno said that the project to open and secure main supply routes will be augmented with operations to rid the country of the Al-Shabaab.

"What we want to do is to clear the shoulders of these roads up to 20 meters on either side but we shall also include operations to clear Al-Shabaab remnants, 20kms on each side of the roads to ensure that the movement is safe and Al-Shabaab does not lay mines and ambushes along the routes," Othieno said.

The use of the deadly devices on main supply routes has been cited as one of the key reasons restricting response to humanitarian crisis and hampering troops' access to AMISOM forward operating bases in various sectors.

The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, Francisco Madeira said the opening and securing of main supply routes is crucial for channeling humanitarian aid needed by drought-stricken residents.

Madeira lauded the move, noting that AMISOM will support the government in securing the main roads. He said the impact of opening main supply routes is so critical that needs swift implementation.

"If we took one supply route for example the Mogadishu-Baidoa, if we open that supply route and make sure that the population along those routes are protected, make sure that the road is passable every day, that is a major boost to the economy, a major boost for the normalization of life and a major boost to the defeat of the Al-Shabaab," he said

Source: Xinhua  

  • Written by Abdullahi

Somalia: Abducted Somali journalist freed after torture

AFGOYE, Somalia — A colleague says that a Somali journalist who was kidnapped on Saturday was found tied up and alive in the agricultural town of Afgoye, 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of Mogadishu, the capital, after he was tortured and released by his captors.

Ahmedwali Hussein, an editor at Goobjoog radio and television station, said a farmer found Hanad Ali Guled lying in his field with hands and legs tied behind his back.

He said Guled had difficulties speaking because of the torture that had been inflicted on him.

No group has claimed responsibility for the journalist’s abduction by six armed men who stopped him on his way to work outside Mogadishu on Saturday.

  • Written by Abdullahi