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

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

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.
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