News / Africa

UN Warns Civilians About Anticipated Attack on Somali Port

Ugandan police officer serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia's first Formed Police Unit stands at the top of an armored personnel carrier at a police station in the capital Mogadishu, August 7, 2012.Ugandan police officer serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia's first Formed Police Unit stands at the top of an armored personnel carrier at a police station in the capital Mogadishu, August 7, 2012.
x
Ugandan police officer serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia's first Formed Police Unit stands at the top of an armored personnel carrier at a police station in the capital Mogadishu, August 7, 2012.
Ugandan police officer serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia's first Formed Police Unit stands at the top of an armored personnel carrier at a police station in the capital Mogadishu, August 7, 2012.
Gabe Joselow
NAIROBI, Kenya — A United Nations official has expressed concern about reports of civilian casualties from naval assaults on the Somali city of Kismayo. The port city is one of the last strongholds of the militant group al-Shabab, and securing Kismayo is a key objective for African Union [AU] forces fighting in Somalia.

U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, said in a statement Tuesday that fighting for control of the town of Kismayo “appears imminent," citing reports of naval gunfire and air strikes on the town.

He called for all parties involved to minimize the impact on civilians, and to allow humanitarian access.

AMISOM mission gathers steam

The statement did not specify which military was responsible for the assaults. The Kenyan Defense Forces [KDF] have been advancing toward Kismayo since entering the country to combat al-Shabab last October.

Their progress stalled around the town of Afmadow earlier this year, but the operation has regained momentum since the force was integrated into the African Union mission, known as AMISOM, in June.

An AMISOM spokesperson Tuesday would not confirm whether reports of air and naval assaults in Kismayo were part of an upcoming offensive.

Speaking by phone from Mogadishu, the head of the U.N. Office for Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA] in Somalia, Justin Brady, said the agency expects the fight for Kismayo to be intense.

“We have anticipated this one could be one of the larger battles and again, there's a large civilian population, there's a large IDP [Internally Displaced People] population and they are very likely to get caught up in that fighting,” he said.

Brady admits OCHA's information about the current humanitarian situation in Kismayo is, in his words, “pretty sketchy,” which is why they are calling for better access.

Battle begins to escalate

A civilian witness in Kismayo, who requested not to be named, told VOA that warships off the coast had been shelling targets in the city throughout the day Tuesday. He said militants have been returning fire from the shore.

He also said tensions are high in the city, and people are fleeing north to the town of Jamame.

A Kenyan military official said he could not comment on whether KDF ships were involved in any recent military activity around Kismayo.

Troops from Burundi, Kenya, and Uganda make up the bulk of soldiers in AMISOM. Ethiopian troops also are fighting against al-Shabab in Somalia, independent of the AU mission.

Map of SomaliaMap of Somalia
x
Map of Somalia
Map of Somalia

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countriesi
X
December 16, 2014 2:14 PM
Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.
Video

Video Indonesian Province to Expand Sharia Law

Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population and a legal system based on Dutch civil law and Indonesian government regulations. But in a 2001 compromise with separatists, Aceh province in Sumatra island’s north was allowed to implement Sharia law. Since then, religious justice has become increasingly strict. VOA correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh.
Video

Video Some Russian Businesses Thrive in Poor Economy

Capital flight, the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions are pushing Russia's staggering economy into recession. But not companies are suffering. The ruble’s drop in value has benefited exporters as well as businesses targeting increasingly frugal customers. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

All About America

AppleAndroid