Horn of Africa
Foreign forces launched a night raid on a rebel-held town in Somalia's southern Lower Shabelle region from the sea Oct. 4. "Westerners in boats attacked our base at Barawe beach and one was martyred from our side," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabaab's spokesman for military operations, told Reuters by telephone. Sources indicated that the target of the raid may have been Shabaab leader Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr AKA Ahmed Godane—but he was apparently not killed or captured. It is unclear whether any Shabaab leaders were killed in the operation. Pentagon spokesman George Little told NBC the next day: "I can confirm that yesterday, Oct. 4, US military personnel were involved in a counterterrorism operation against a known al-Shabaab terrorist. We are not prepared to provide additional detail at this time." (BBC News, NBC, Garowe Online, Oct. 5)
Thousands of displaced persons who have taken refuge in Somalia's capital Mogadishu are being forcibly evicted from makeshift camps as the government presses ahead with plans to clean up the city, Amnesty said in a briefing released Sept. 13. "It is completely unacceptable for people who have fled to the capital for protection to be forcibly evicted. It has resulted in large scale human rights abuses," said Gemma Davies, Amnesty's Somalia researcher. "The government has a responsibility to protect this vulnerable sector of society and ensure their security." More than 300,000 live in settlements in Mogadishu, where they are sheltering from cyclical drought, famine and the two-decades-long armed conflict.
Some 160 Somali religious scholars came together in Mogadishu on Set. 11 to issue a fatwa denouncing al-Shabab, saying the rebel group has no place in Islam. The Fatwa calls al-Shabab a "strayed group," and called upon members to repent from its "criminal acts." It asserted that Somalia's interim government is a Muslim government and it is illegal to call it "apostate" or to wield arms against it. It forbids Muslims from joining or providing support to al-Shabab, and mandates support for the government's fight against the rebels.
At least 10 Shabaab rebel fighters were reportedly killed in heavy clashes with Kenyan security forces Aug. 21 after the Somali rebels crossed the border and attacked a military patrol. Local authorities in the town of Garissa, North Eastern state, said Shabaab fighters attacked a Kenyan border patrol with grenades, mortars and small arms, sparking a battle that lasted for nearly an hour, residents said. There was a similar incident last week, when Shabaab fighters raided a police post at Galmagala, in Garissa county's Fafi district, some 10 kilometers from Somalia's border, killing four officers and seizing weapons. (Garowe Online via AllAfrica, Aug. 22)
A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on Aug. 20 awarded (CJA press release, PDF) $5 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages to a victim of torture at the hands of a Somali military colonel some 25 years ago. Judge George Smith determined in November that constitutional law professor Abukar Hassan Ahmed was arbitrarily detained by Col. Abdi Aden Magan's subordinates for three months in 1988. The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ahmed in 2010, when Magan was residing in Ohio. This is the largest amount ever awarded in a US court for the torture of one individual by another, but since Magan has left the US it is uncertain whether Ahmed could ever actually receive any damages. Ahmed currently serves as an adviser to the president of Somalia.
Egypt's foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, vowing not to give up "a single drop of water from the Nile," said June 16 he will go to Addis Ababa to discuss a giant dam that Ethiopia has started building in defiance of Cairo's objections. "No Nile—no Egypt," he said at a press conference. Last week, Ethiopia summoned the Egyptian ambassador after politicians in Cairo were shown on TV calling for military action or supporting Ethiopian rebels. Ethiopia says the $4.7 billion Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile will eventually provide 6,000 megawatts of power. Egypt was apparently caught by surprise when Ethiopia started diverting the Blue Nile to begin construction last month.
Al-Shabaab radicals launched an assault on April 14 against Somalia's Supreme Court. The attack, resulting in at least 35 deaths, was one of the worst attacks in years for the country's capital of Mogadishu. According to the Somali government, nine men were involved in the attack against the court, six of whom detonated explosive vests. Al-Shabab retained control over most of Somalia's capital before Somali forces and the African Union forced the militants out of Mogadishu in 2011. Since being forced out of the capital, al-Shabaab has carried out a series of bomb attack in the city, with the new coordinated attack amounting to the largest one since 2011. The Somali government reported that all of the attackers died, with some killed by security forces.
At least 163 were reported dead March 28 in clashes at Okello, in Pibor county of South Sudan's Jonglei state, pitting government troops against a rebel force whose commander David Yau Yau is said to be among the slain. (See map.) South Sudan accuses Khartoum of supporting the rebels, with military spokesman Col. Philip Aguer saying a seized airstrip was used for arms drops. He suggested Sudan is arming the rebellion in a bid to block the South's plans to build an oil pipeline through Ethiopia to a port in Djibouti. Aguer said the South's military, the SPLA, would continue to "deal with the militia group." (The Guardian, March 28) A Kenyan route for the pipeline has also been broached, with the aim of freeing the South from having to export oil through Khartoum's territory.