News / Africa

    Somalia Clan Leader Tightens Grip on Strategic Port City

    Activities at the sea port in lower Juba regions in Kismayu, Somalia, Feb. 27, 2013
    Activities at the sea port in lower Juba regions in Kismayu, Somalia, Feb. 27, 2013
    Reuters
    A clan leader opposed by Somalia's federal government has strengthened his grip on Kismayu after three days of fighting against rival militias battling for control of the strategic southern port city, residents said on Sunday.
        
    Scores are feared to have been killed in clashes since Ahmed Madobe, head of the Ras Kamboni militia, was chosen in May by a regional assembly to preside over the Jubaland region, where the port lies. He now appears to have extended his control.
        
    Madobe's election had prompted rival claims to the regional presidency, including a clan leader viewed as backed by the Mogadishu government, Barre Hirale. The fighting has raised worries it could spark broader clan warfare across Somalia.
        
    The African Union peacekeeping force, AMISOM, said the city was now calm and its troops had intervened to facilitate talks between rivals, although it said its mission was not to mediate.
        
    "Most of my relatives have been killed today," Faiza Nur, a mother of seven, told Reuters by telephone, without giving numbers. "I hear the sound of gunshots far out to the outskirts. I understand Ras Kamboni now controls all of Kismayu."
        
    The fate of Kismayu is viewed as a test of Mogadishu's skill in building a federal system of government in a nation riven by two decades of conflict and still fighting Islamist rebels who were driven from power by African troops.
        
    The government has said it is ready to compromise but has not spelled out how. Diplomats with a close knowledge of the Kismayu situation say Mogadishu is expected to back down and let Madobe hold the presidency, but only in an interim capacity.
        
    Hunger
        
    A mother of five, Safia Abdulle, said from Kismayu, "This is the third day we are indoors. The children are very hungry but we cannot go out to buy food. We have no routes to flee."
        
    Residents said later on Sunday that gunfire had stopped, but said they were still too frightened to go outside.
        
    Controlling the port is a lucrative prize for clan leaders, bringing with it revenues generated from port taxes, charcoal exports and levies on arms and other illegal imports.
        
    Residents had said on Saturday they saw more than 20 bodies of those killed in fighting. Hirale told Reuters the death toll of fighters and civilians was at least 50 from the street battles that had erupted on Friday.
        
    Given the clashes and poor communications, it was impossible to obtain a clear death toll. Dozens of people have been reported killed in earlier flare-ups since May.
        
    "We are trying to facilitate their talks, but we are not there to mediate," Colonel Ali Aden Houmed, spokesman for AMISOM in Somalia, said by telephone, adding that African troops had intervened to restore calm which he said now prevailed.
        
    Hirale said from Kismayu that Kenyan forces had deployed but said they had helped Madobe's Ras Kamboni militia. The AMISOM spokesman denied this, saying African troops were neutral.
        
    Madobe is seen as close to Kenya, which has played a key role clearing Islamists from the southern port that lies near Kenya's border. Nairobi acknowledges no such alliance and says its aim with the African forces is to restore peace in Somalia.
        
    Regional and Western powers worry a slide back into conflict would hand the ousted al-Shabaab Islamist militants a chance to regroup and spread their militancy beyond Somalia's borders.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.