Entries in Mogadishu (6)


Suicide Bombers Attack As Somali Delegates Approve New Constitution

George Doyle/Thinkstock(MOGADISHU, Somalia) -- As more than 600 delegates met in Mogadishu to approve Somalia's new constitution, marking a symbolic break with the country's turbulent past, two al Qaeda-linked suicide bombers tried to attack the gathering only to be killed by security guards.

Two men pretending to be delegates and wearing explosive vests tried to pass a security checkpoint outside the assembly at a police building in the HamarJajab section of the capital city.

According to the news website Somalia Report, the men were shot to death by security forces. Several government soldiers were wounded, but no members of the National Consitutent Assembly, which included legislators and tribal elders, were initially listed among those injured.

Witnesses told Somalia Report that they had seen the bodies of the suicide attackers, and that wounded soldiers had been evacuated to the hospital.

Al Shabaab, the Somali affiliate of al Qaeda, took credit for the attack. Via Twitter, al Shabaab said "twin martyrdom operations" had been carried out by its "Martyrdom Brigade" and that members of the assembly would be "tracked & by one" if they tried to implement the new constitution. The terror group had vowed to attack the National Constituent Assembly, which has been meeting in Mogadishu for the past week.

According to state radio, a regional Somali intelligence chief showed members of the assembly an identity card said to have been carried by one of the attackers, and said they were tracing the attackers.

The delegates passed the constitution in a landslide, with 96 percent of the 645 delegates in attendance voting in favor. The document, which was drawn up after a lengthy debate, will serve as an interim constitution for five years and replaces an earlier charter that lasted eight years.

Notably, it legalizes abortion when a mother's life is in danger and bans female circumcision.

Somalia will next select members of a new parliament, which will pick a speaker prior to the inauguration of a new president.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Shabaab Car Bomb Kills Lawmaker Inside Mogadishu

Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/GettyImages(MOGADISHU, Somalia) -- Just days after the Somali government announced it was sweeping the remnants of the al Shabaab terror group out of Mogadishu, a car bomb planted by the al Qaeda affiliate killed a prominent member of the Somali government inside the city.

Authorities said a bomb planted in his vehicle and detonated by remote control killed Member of Parliament Mohamud Abdi Garwayne and wounded six others, including three of Garwayne's bodyguards, in the Hamarweyne neighborhood Monday morning. Garwayne, a former trade minister, had been a member of an Islamist party before joining Somalia's Transitional Federal Government.

Witnesses reported that Garwayne's body was burned beyond recognition. Garwayne was driving the car when the bomb exploded. The device was reportedly placed beneath the driver's seat, a technique associated with Shabaab.

"Lawmaker Mohamud Garwayne was killed in the attack," regional deputy security chief Warsame Mohamed Hassan told reporters in Mogadishu on Monday. "A bomb had been placed in his car without his awareness." Boubacar Gaoussou Diarra, the head of the African Union Mission in Somalia, condemned the attack in a statement decrying, "attempts to derail the peace."

"It is deplorable that before the beginning of Ramadan foreign-led forces opposed to the peace process use cowardly and barbaric attacks, with no regard for the life of innocent Somalis, in a desperate attempt to derail Somalia's greatest hope for peace in decades," said Ambassador Diarra.

Shabaab issued a statement claiming credit for the attack.

The attack came as Somalia prepares for a National Constituent Assembly that is charged with forming a new and permanent government. The mandate of the current transitional government expires next month.

African Union and Somali troops had largely expelled Shabaab from the capital a year ago. On Friday, the government announced its forces had cordoned off several Mogadishu neighborhoods and conducted a series of mop-up raids, netting 89 suspected members of al Shabaab. "The objective of the raid was to weed out the remnants of the al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group," said the government in a statement after the raids, "in the wake of numerous roadmap activities being held in Mogadishu that will pave the way for the return of permanent and representative government."

Somali authorities also say they are now housing several hundred former Shabaab fighters, many of them teens, who have defected from the beleaguered terror group and sought food and shelter via a government program.

Kenyan forces have also been pressing al Shabaab inside Somalia, and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said in June that Shabaab would be defeated in a final offensive, expected next month.

On Sunday, Somalia's interior minister said security inside Mogadishu would be increased in anticipation of Ramadan, which begins Friday. Shabaab has vowed to continue attacks despite leaving Mogadishu, and has often stepped up attacks inside Somalia during Ramadan.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Somali Journalist Gunned Down, Sixth Killed in 5 Months

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MOGADISHU, Somalia) -- A local journalist was gunned down in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, becoming the sixth journalist killed so far this year and putting the east African nation on track to have its deadliest year ever for media workers.

Ahmed Addow Anshur, who worked at a local radio station, was murdered by four armed assailants on motorcycles near a market midday Wednesday, according to the National Union for Somali Journalists (NUSOJ). NUSOJ said the attackers escaped the scene and the motive for the killing is not yet known.

Anshur's death marks the sixth killing of a local journalist in Somalia since the new year and the second this month, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

In a statement, the NUSOJ said the targeting of journalists is part of a concerted effort to "undermine the media freedom and freedom of expression," but the organization's Secretary General, Mohammed Ibrahim, said it's often difficult to tell who is actually be behind the attacks.

Somalia has been rocked by violence for the past two decades as the transitional government battles militant Islamists, including the al Qaeda-allied terrorist organization al-Shabaab, for control of the country. Al-Shabaab, which includes in its ranks several American-born fighters such as the rapping jihadist Omar Hammami, occasionally claims responsibility or is blamed for the killings, but other times -- such as in Anshur's case -- the journalists are gunned down in areas controlled by the government.

There are also a variety of violent criminal gangs to consider, Ibrahim said, not to mention journalists who are simply caught in the crossfire.

"[The journalists] know that it's risky, it's deadly, but they respect their profession," said Ibrahim, a veteran Somali journalist who is the first recipient of the Galloway Family Foundation Fellowship for International Investigative Reporting at the ABC News Brian Ross Investigative Unit. "They report to the outside world the situation on the ground. It is a great bravery."

Before coming to the U.S., Ibrahim contributed reporting from Somalia to the New York Times and worked closely with Pulitzer prize-winning Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman.

The United Nations special representative to Somalia condemned Anshur's murder in a statement today and said journalism in the war-torn nation is "essential to a free and functioning society."

"It is well known that Somali journalists have the most difficult working conditions in the world," the U.N. representative, Dr. Augustine Mahiga, said. "But that does not make it any easier to accept when one is brutally killed. Ahmed Addow Anshur was targeted in cold blood for carrying out his doing his job as a professional journalist..."

In all, the CPJ counts 41 journalists that have been killed in Somalia since 1992 and has named the country the most dangerous on the continent for media workers. The deadliest year to date was 2009, in which nine journalists were killed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dozens Killed after Car Bomb Explodes in Somali Capital

U.S. State Department(MOGADISHU, Somalia) -- As many as 65 people were killed in Somalia on Tuesday when a truck filled with explosives went off in a crowded area near a university in Mogadishu, according to a Somali government spokesman.

Soldiers, civilians, and students were among those killed.  Several others were wounded, including the country's minister of health.

Al-Shabab, an Islamic militant group linked to al Qaeda, told the BBC it was responsible for the attack.

Tuesday's bombing was the largest attack in Somalia's capital since al-Shabab pulled out of Mogadishu in August.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Somalia Famine: Measles Epidemic Hits Mogadishu


The Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images(MOGADISHU, Somalia) -- On our first trip back to Somalia since the end of July, we head toward the newest center of gravity in this crisis, Mogadishu's hospital.

The problem is no longer just the famine, it's what comes with it when hunger weakens children's tiny frames. There is a crowd of people outside Banadir Hospital, and measles is one of the main reasons parents are bringing their children.

Inside the hospital, there is a crush of families waiting for help.

Dr. Shafie Gimal, one of only four doctors seeing children -- a total of 300 every day -- says the hospital has seen six times the number of measles cases this year than last.

Gimal takes us upstairs toward the quarantined rooms, where they are desperately trying to keep the measles from spreading, and shows us the one decades-old X-ray machine the hospital has.

Then we get to one of those quarantined rooms and see a boy with glassy eyes. His forehead is burning and he has a horrendous cough. His older sister sits with him in bed.

The doctor assures us that the boy will be fine.

"I am very happy...because he's here in the hospital," the boy's sister tell us.

In the U.S., children have been getting the MMR vaccine to prevent measles since the late 1960s.

But here, there are no proper vaccinations because there is no real government. There hasn't been one in 20 years -- leaving an often-violent power vacuum.

The power struggle has made it impossible to break the cycle of famine. But inside the tiny clinics all over Somalia we discover a race playing out. Humanitarian workers are risking their lives to offer free vaccinations.

We visit a clinic where Somali mothers have lined up because they know this is one of the few places where they can actually get vaccines for their children. It is a line of defense built one baby at a time.

"No one should be dying of measles in this day and age," says Dawn Blalock, a U.N. humanitarian worker from California.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Somalia Famine: Help Arrives in Mogadishu

George Doyle/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Help has arrived for some of Somalia’s most famine-stricken people in Mogadishu.

BBC News reports that aid was flown to the region in the UN refugee agency’s first airlift to Somalia’s capital in five years.

According to the UN, 3.2 million people -- nearly half the country’s population -- is in need of immediate assistance.

In addition to the five famine zones riddling the country, more than 11 million people across the Horn of Africa are experiencing the devastating effects of the region’s worst drought in 60 years.

The U..S has given $105 million toward famine-relief efforts, which had been hampered by al Qeada-linked Islamic extremists who had previously prohibited foriegn aid shipments.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio