The war against the Somali pirates is heating up. Warships are finding and destroying 2-3 mother ships a week now. Indian and Indonesian warships are increasingly opening fire on pirates, killing them on sight. This is the result of pirate operations moving to the shores of western India, and Indonesia fearing that the pirates will become a threat to all ships moving through the Indian Ocean to and from Indonesia.
Somali pirates continue to hold seven Indian sailors, even though their ransom had been paid. The pirates are trying to force India to free 120 Somali pirates arrested off the coast of India. Meanwhile, another 53 Indian sailors are held on five different ships, and there is fear that not all of these will be released, even if ransom is paid. The TNG (Transitional National Government) has ordered its ambassador to India to speak to the 120 pirates, to determine if all of them are actually Somali. The police in Mumbai have found the prisoners uncooperative, and none of them have any Identity documents. The TNG has offered to take the prisoners, if they are Somali. But the Indians are not sure that is a good idea, as the deported pirates could be freed in Somali via bribes. At the same time, India does not like the idea of prosecuting, and imprisoning the captured pirates, and perhaps hundreds, or thousands, more. This may be why Indian warships off Somalia are more frequently opening fire on pirates they encounter, rather than arresting them.
Somalis are fleeing Somalia at the rate of over 30,000 a month. That amounts to about two percent of the population (mostly from the chaotic south) fleeing each year. Most are heading for Kenya, with Yemen the second most popular choice. Others flee to Ethiopia and other countries. The number of refugees fleeing each month has doubled in the last year.
Fighting continues in Mogadishu, but the heaviest fighting is further south and west, along the Kenyan and Ethiopian borders. Al Shabaab is losing these battles, and has pulled fighters from Mogadishu to reinforce their faltering forces in the south.
May 3, 2011: Fighting in the southwestern town of Garbaharey has caused over a hundred casualties, and at least 26 dead. Al Shabaab has been unable to take the town back from the Sufi militia.
Elsewhere in the south, al Shabaab ambushed a government convoy and killed two people. Soldiers in the truck fought back, and killed six of the attackers. Elsewhere in the south, ten al Shabaab gunmen were killed while fighting in southern village of Maykarebay.
May 2, 2011: Al Shabaab fighters attacked the southwestern town of Garbaharey, which they had abandoned to Sufi militia on April 28th.
April 29, 2011: A Singapore chemical tanker was taken by pirates off the Kenyan coast. The pirates are now operating further and further down the east coast of Africa.
April 28, 2011: Al Shabaab fighters withdrew from the southwestern town of Garbaharey, when a column of pro-government Sufi militia approached. Al Shabaab had held the town for two years. The Sufi are a usually peaceful Islamic sect, but constant persecution by al Shabaab led to the formation of Sufi militias, which are now on the offensive.
Elsewhere in the south, at least 30 al Shabaab gunmen died while fighting for control of the village of Tulo Barwago.
April 27, 2011: In the south, a minibus was hit by a landmine or roadside bomb, killing eight and wounding 13.