Somalia: Thieves Rule


January 12, 2008: In Mogadishu, Ethiopian troops continue clearing neighborhoods of weapons and hostile gunmen. Over a thousand people a day are fleeing Mogadishu, and ending up in improvised refugee camps on the outskirts. Foreign aid groups are having a hard time providing food and other materials, because of the many gunmen hanging out in these new camps. Moreover, the soldiers and police belonging to the Transitional Government are increasingly going into the banditry business. This has even resulted in armed standoffs between soldiers and policemen. With Mogadishu changing hands, thousands of armed clan militia fighters are being moved around, and made quite angry. The fighting will probably intensify, and UN peacekeepers are not going to arrive in sufficient numbers to change anything. About 300,000 people have fled Mogadishu in the last three months.

January 10, 2008: In Puntland, police killed two members of a kidnapping gang, that had recently grabbed a French journalist, and a doctor and nurse working for a foreign aid group.

January 8, 2008: In Mogadishu, 40 armed men attacked an NGO compound, killing a security guard and chasing the rest away. The compound was looted.

January 7, 2008: While Somalia gets most of the publicity for increased pirate attacks, Nigeria had a larger share of the piracy incidents (42 percent versus 31 percent) last year.

January 6, 2008: Several hundred Islamic Courts gunmen are believed to be moving towards the temporary Transitional Government capital in Baidoa. In Kenya, unrest following a disputed presidential election, has paralyzed many parts of the government.

January 5, 2008: Gunmen in Mogadishu kidnapped two Libyan diplomats, but released them after eleven hours.

January 4, 2008: The Transitional Government reorganized, with a new set of fifteen ministers, replacing the former 18. The ministries are assigned to placate the largest number of clans and warlords. The 73 year old president is ill, and went to Kenya, then Britain, seeking medical treatment.


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