News / Africa

Al-Shabab's Removal Prompts Tight Security at Somali Port

Soldiers patrol the seaport in Somalia's southern port city of Kismayo, November 29, 2012.Soldiers patrol the seaport in Somalia's southern port city of Kismayo, November 29, 2012.
x
Soldiers patrol the seaport in Somalia's southern port city of Kismayo, November 29, 2012.
Soldiers patrol the seaport in Somalia's southern port city of Kismayo, November 29, 2012.
African Union troops and Somali government forces captured the key port city of Kismayo from militant group al-Shabab in October. Since then, the AU and government troops have established a heavy presence in and around the city, and have beefed up security with the aim of preventing further al-Shabab attacks.

Sixteen-year-old Ahmed Ali Olow is locked up in an abandoned, windowless charcoal storage facility that serves as a prison. The prison doesn’t have a door, only a small hole that is blocked by a rusty old freezer, which only the guards can move.

Olow is the latest person arrested by Somali government forces at the port of Kismayo on suspicion of being a member of al-Shabab.

The teenager said he was looking for a job when soldiers took him into custody.

“They have called me while I was looking at one of the ships offloading at the port," he said. "They asked where I was going. I told them I was checking out this ship around here. Actually this was the first time I saw the port."

Al-Shabab has used teenagers like Olow to carry out suicide attacks against government officials, security forces and civilians.

Olow said officials at the port were afraid he was carrying explosives. He said he is not part of al-Shabab and doesn’t know how to use any kind of weapon.

Since al-Shabab was driven out of Kismayo in October, the port itself has been managed by a temporary 12-member committee led by Ahmed Madobe, leader of the Somali militia group Ras Kamboni, which helped liberate Kismayo. The committee collects revenue from port operations, while talks continue to set up a permanent administration to govern the city in both Nairobi and Kismayo.

Kenyan Major Emanuel Okello said that port security officers leave nothing to chance when it comes to safety.

“... so what happens, we have two security checks at the two roadblocks where my men, together with Somali national army, physically search and frisk each and every individual coming to the port, and even check vehicles," said Okello. "People have to come out, open the vehicles' boot, we conduct thorough checks before allowing them into the port, so we make sure anyone who is coming to the port is not armed or has no explosives.”

Thirty-six-year-old Mohamed Muhumad Mohamed has worked at the port for five years. He said that when government forces arrived in the port, people were kept waiting for hours before the search began.

“Everything is about people getting to understand and know each other," he said. "When these guys arrived here, we will be outside the port for about two to three hours before any check-up was done and they were all doing that because of security. After some time they have made security check easy for us, now it takes some few minutes.”

Okello noted that port workers have been cooperative in pointing out new individuals visiting the port, coming to work or as truck drivers.

“There was a time we had al-Shabab operatives, three of them, infiltrate - and it's locals who pointed them out to us," he said. "They told us these people are al-Shabab, so they were arrested and interviewed and taken to police station in town. After thorough investigation I understand they were later released in a condition that their whereabouts must be known.”

For the time being, the teenager, Olow, will remain imprisoned in the abandoned charcoal store while he waits for officials to establish his identity.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid