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Somalia Report Weekly Newsletter-Volume 20

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Saturday October 08, 2011 - 04:39:24 in Reports by Super Admin
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    Somalia Report Weekly Newsletter-Volume 20

    October 7, 2011 Issue 1, Volume 20

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October 7, 2011 Issue 1, Volume 20

Dear Readers,

Mogadishu (Sunatimes) You won't be surprised to find out the main focus of our newsletter this week is the massive suicide blast al-Shabaab carried out in Mogadishu, finally delivering on its threat to hammer targets in government-controlled areas after many failed and aborted attempts (including adonkey bomb) since the pull-out.



More than 100 people died in thedeadliest-ever attack, an appalling loss of life that saw the futures of many young students simply wishing to study in Turkey wiped out at a government building near the KM4 junction, in the heart of the Transitional Federal Government's territory.


While many people are questioning why anybody would do such a thing, and the bombing is unlikely to increase al-Shabaab's popularity, it sent a very clear message that the insurgency is far from over. The attack wiped out any residue of triumphalism the TFG might still have been feeling about al-Shabaab's withdrawal from Mogadishu, andraised questions over the effectiveness of the security forces, who allowed a truck packed with explosives to rumble through its heartland.

The government will point to the many foiled plots in the last two months, and even the UN's Special Representative to Somalia Augustine P Mahiga said such attacks were difficult to prevent. Al-Shabaab has vowed more bomb blasts, warning Somalis to stay away from government buildings, and the ease with which this device reached its target means the climate of fear the insurgents wish to create will be thick on the streets of Mogadishu.

As to what would drive Bishar Abdullahi Nur, 20, to carry out such an atrocity, wespoke to a close friend, who said the young man was moved to join up with al-Shabaab after Ethiopia's invasion, which sparked the insurgency.Nur himself, in an audio recording on al-Shabaab websites, said he was prepared to give his soul to target TFG officials, and criticized students for looking to pursue their education. They were the words of a young man who had bought into al-Shabaab's message with all his being, and all the more tragic for it.

And as if we needed any more evidence of al-Shabaab's continued strength, the insurgents carried on with their swelling efforts to dislodge Ahlu Sunnah wal Jamaa from central Somalia,briefly taking control of the pro-government group's stronghold of Dhusamareb.

Sure, ASWJ took the ground back, but the very fact al-Shabaab is capable of penetrating so deeply into an area long held by the crucial militia is a worrying sign for the government.

Then there wereattacks on Dhobley, one of the key towns controlled by pro-government forces in the border areas.

All of the above is hardly good news for aid agencies who are trying to deliver food and other supplies to displaced people. Not that the ICRC, renowned for often being the last man standing in conflict zones, is fazed. After the bombing the agency announced it hadstarted deliveries aimed at 1.1 million people, much of it in areas controlled by the insurgents.

There was, however, one positive development for Mogadishu residents, when the TFGdismantled checkpointsoperated by freelance militia extorting cash from locals.

The move followed another clash between TFG forces over monies garnered from checkpoints, something we have seen a lot of as soldiers look to profit from al-Shabaab's decision to abandon much of Mogadishu.

Puntland

There was more unrest in Puntland, withclan militia duking it outand security officersshot dead in Galkayo.

Piracy

Following hard on the heels of the kidnapping of Briton Judith Tebbutt and the murder of her husband in Kenya, what was being flagged as a possible trend of new pirate activity blossomed into a real threat of long-term criminality in coastal areas of Somalia's neighbor with the seizure of Frenchwoman Marie Dedieu, 66, from a similar area.

Dedieu was taken on Saturday from Manda Bay, Lamu, and according to a pirate who contacted Somalia Report, she isnow being held in Kismayowith the knowledge and approval of al-Shabaab, with a ransom demand forthcoming.

The pirates are hardly a charming bunch at the best of times, but they have reached new lows by taking Tebbutt and Dedieu. While Tebbutt suffers from hearing problems, Dedieu has heart problems, cancer and is wheelchair bound (presumably the pirates didn't have much room, for they left her wheelchair behind). The pirates claim that Dedieu's health is fine despite her problem, but her family and friends say she needs a cocktail of drugs to simply stay alive.

Kenya is hardly delighted about these kidnappings, which could seriously dent its tourism industry, but so far its actions appear to be limited to arresting locals who may be linked and beefing up the lax security in the area of Lamu, which is a stone's throw (well a very small stone thrown by a very large man) from Somalia. Maybe this will be enough to stop further kidnaps, and maybe not.

Either way, it is a case of locking the stable door after the horse has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom.

For more on piracy, including the UAE sending huge amount of equipment to Puntland for its anti-piracy force and other bits and bobs, please see ourweekly report.

That's it from us from a particularly depressing week.

Regards,

The Editor.


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