News / Africa

Somali Pirates Flee Possible al-Shabab Attack

Somali pirates based in the central coastal town of Harardhere are reported to be fleeing with hijacked ships and crews to another neighboring pirate stronghold, before a possible Islamist attack on Harardhere.

VOA sources in Somalia say hundreds of al-Shabab militants left the town of Eldhere in the Galgadud region late Saturday and began heading east toward Harardhere in south Mudug.  Harardhere is home to hundreds of pirates, who are holding at least six vessels and more than 90 people hostage.

The pirates began retreating with the hijacked vessels and crew to Hobyo, another pirate stronghold about 108 kilometers to the north.  

Al-Shabab, which has proclaimed allegiance to al-Qaida and is considered a terrorist group by the United States and several other Western nations, controls most of southern Somalia and has been fighting for several years to topple the U.N.-backed, African Union-protected government in the Somali capital Mogadishu.  

In recent days, al-Shabab said it had taken over control of three towns in the Galgadud region from the rival, pro-government Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama'a militia.  The three towns, including Eldhere, are on the main road that leads to the capital.   

But observers say in targeting Harardhere, al-Shabab's motive may be revenge-driven.  

The Program Coordinator for the Nairobi-based East Africa Seafarers' Association, Andrew Mwangura, says he believes al-Shabab could be threatening to take Harardhere from pirates as punishment for the recent hijacking of a ship from Yemen, which was allegedly carrying arms for the extremist group.    

He says al-Shabab is also fuming over last month's hijacking of nine Indian-owned vessels off the coast of Somalia.  The pirates seized the small ships, called dhows, after they left the southern port of Kismayo with cargo destined for the United Arab Emirates.

The extremist group controls several key sea ports in southern Somalia, including Kismayo.  The port is believed to generate millions of dollars in revenue for al-Shabab.

"These nine Indian dhows were laden with charcoal," said Andrew Mwangura.  "And you know, charcoal export is part of money-making for al-Shabab.  It is part of their revenue.  You cannot operate out of the port of Kismayo without paying al-Shabab," he explained.

Most of the dhows have since been freed, but the hijackings prompted the Indian government to ban Indian-flagged vessels from sailing anywhere near Somalia.  Mwangura says it is possible al-Shabab is angry about the loss of potential revenue caused by the ban.     

This is not the first time al-Shabab has moved against pirates in Harardhere.  In May, 2008, al-Shabab briefly seized Harardhere and declared piracy illegal before retreating.  Five months later, several carloads of al-Shabab fighters entered Harardhere to demand the release of a hijacked Saudi Arabian supertanker, Sirius Star.  

Western counter-terrorism officials have long worried that some of the money from piracy is making its way into the hands of extremists to fund violence in Somalia.  But complex clan structures, shifting alliances, and an ungoverned black market have thwarted efforts to establish a solid connection.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid