Somalia: Local Taliban Enforce Islamic Rules

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October 22, 2005: In the last nine months, there have been 21 attacks by pirates against ships moving along the Somali coast. There were very few such attacks before this year. The attacks do not always succeed, with most ships getting away after being shot at by assault rifles and RPG rockets. But the attacks have caused some shipping companies to turn down business carrying goods to Somali ports, and those that continue these runs have raised their rates.

October 21, 2005: The ship " Pagania", and its twenty man crew of Ukrainians, were seized by pirates off the Somali coast. The ship was traveling from South Africa to Europe with a cargo of iron ore. The pirates are demanding a ransom of $700,000.

October 18, 2005: Bandits along the Kenyan border have increased their attacks on trucks carrying goods into Somalia. Some drivers have been killed when they try to outrun the gunmen. This has made the trade more expensive, as some companies add armed guards to their convoys, or pay protection money to bandit gangs or local warlords.

October 17, 2005: The Islamic Courts, local groups that armed and organized themselves to establish order in their areas, under the leadership of local Islamic clerics, are now turning to Taliban type tactics. For the last few years, Islamic Courts have established themselves as islands of law and order in a country overrun by warlords. But now the Islamic Courts are attempting to enforce religious rules on all Somalis they can reach. This includes forcing people to fast and not drink in daytime during Ramadan (which occurs one month a year), not to dance, sing or watch movies. To that end, several dozen Islamic Courts gunmen invaded a video editing firm in Mogadishu and destroyed equipment and video tapes. The firm supplied Hindu films with soundtracks in Somali. These films, while chaste by Western standards, are very popular in Somalia. But they contain women in revealing costumes, and a lot of singing and dancing. The Islamic Courts are popular, however, because they have killed many murderers and rapists, and destroyed some major criminal gangs.

October 14, 2005: Pirates released the ship Miltzow, which was carrying food supplies to starving Somalis. It is not known if ransom was paid, but many Somali groups, including some warlords, have criticized the pirates and helped with the negotiations to get the food aid ships released, and left alone in the future.

 

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