News / Africa

UN Urges More Military Force to Confront al-Shabab in Somalia

Alleged members of al-Shabab are blindfolded and guarded by soldiers of the Somali National Army (SNA) in Kismayo, southern Somalia, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012.Alleged members of al-Shabab are blindfolded and guarded by soldiers of the Somali National Army (SNA) in Kismayo, southern Somalia, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012.
x
Alleged members of al-Shabab are blindfolded and guarded by soldiers of the Somali National Army (SNA) in Kismayo, southern Somalia, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012.
Alleged members of al-Shabab are blindfolded and guarded by soldiers of the Somali National Army (SNA) in Kismayo, southern Somalia, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012.
Gabe Joselow
The top U.N. official for Somalia said more military force is needed to push Islamist militant group al-Shabab out of its remaining strongholds.  Such strongholds include the town of Barawe -- the scene of a U.S. Special Forces strike over the weekend.
 
U.N. Special Representative for Somalia Nick Kay said al-Shabab “poses a real and present threat” to peace-building efforts in Somalia.
 
Speaking to VOA in Mogadishu Monday, he noted the al-Qaida-linked group is not as strong as it was before being pushed out of the capital and other major cities, but said further military operations are still needed to remove the militants from other parts of the country.
 
“We can help the Somalis to improve in Mogadishu by better policing, better intelligence, better coordination," Kay said. "But essentially, I don’t think we will remove that threat until we actually deal with al-Shabab outside Mogadishu and to do that -- yeah, some of it is asymmetric, but some of it is still relatively conventional.”
 
The African Union-led peacekeeping force, AMISOM, was instrumental in loosening al-Shabab’s hold on major cities in 2011 and 2012.  But as allied Ethiopian forces start to pull out of Somalia, peacekeepers are finding they are stretched too thin to continue offensive operations.
 
Kay said U.N. Security Council members will likely discuss a temporary increase in the number of troops at a review of the AMISOM mission later this month.
 
One of the areas still under al-Shabab control is the coastal town of Barawe, south of the capital - the scene of a U.S. Special Forces operation over the weekend targeting a al-Shabab commander.
 
There has been no confirmation that the target, known by the name Ikrima, was apprehended or killed in the operation.
 
Kay said the U.N. did not know about the operation ahead of time, but said he supports the action.
 
“Clearly this is an area that is of strategic importance to al-Shabab, so certainly I support and welcome any effort that is made to remove al-Shabab from controlling that place," he said.  
 
The Somali National Army is also lacking capacity to take over security in towns freed from militants.
 
Government spokesman Abdirahman Omar Osman tells VOA the military needs airpower more than anything.
 
“You can imagine Somalia, which is the size of Afghanistan, we don’t have one helicopter, a gunship that can fight," Osman said. "And when these guys go to the remote areas, you can imagine, it’s easier for them to hide in these areas, so the best way to deal with this is through air operations, which we do not have that capacity.”
 
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for last month's terrorist attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya’s capital Nairobi -- demonstrating the group still has the capacity to strike beyond Somalia’s borders.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More