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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid