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

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid