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

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

At Boston Bombing Hearing, Sides Spar Over Boat

At final pre-trial hearing, lawyers for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, prosecutors disagree on whether vessel where he hid from police can be shown to jurors More

Iran Judiciary 'Picks' Lawyer for Detained WP Reporter

Masoud Shafii has been attempting to secure official recognition as Rezaian’s attorney, but is not allowed to see his client in prison More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More