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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs