Somalia: Warlord Heaven


May 17, 2007: The UN is trying to provide food and medical aid to about a million refugees inside Somalia. Nearly 400,000 of them are the result of the recent fighting in Mogadishu. The United States has provided most of the money for this effort, with over $129 million coming from America in the past two years. There seems no end in sight to the violence and lawlessness. The basic problem is that the clan leaders will not submit to a national government, and are more inclined to use guns, rather than negotiation, to settle disputes. The place is kind of a warlord heaven, and hell for everyone else.

May 16, 2007: In Mogadishu, a roadside bomb killed four Ugandan peacekeepers, and a nearby civilian.

May 15, 2007: In Puntland, the two UN kidnapped UN officials were released, after payment of a ransom. The UN staff are normally safe from this sort of thing because of regular payoffs to the various clan leaders. But sometimes, a local warlord will feel slighted, and look for ways to get more money. Meanwhile. two more ships were attacked off the coast. Two South Korean fishing boats, traveling to Kenya, were seized some 300 kilometers off the coast. Two dozen sailors were taken hostage, along with the two boats. The pirates are apparently operating from a mother ship, far off the coast, where most ship traffic now is, in an attempt to avoid the pirates.

May 14, 2007: For the fifth time in the last two months, a merchant ship was attacked off the coast. A speedboat, operating over 300 kilometers from the coast, attacked a cargo ship traveling from Qatar to South Africa, managed to escape, after suffering machine-gun and RPG fire.

May 13, 2007: Ethiopia will withdraw its troops (several thousand) when the full AU peacekeeping force of 8,000 is in place.

May 12, 2007: Several days of fighting over land disputes in the south, left at least ten dead, and dozens wounded. With no courts to settle these disputes, the clans use their armed militias to work things out the traditional way.

May 11, 2007: Islamic radicals are still active, although they do not openly attack those they believe are not sufficiently religious. Video stores have been shot at and bombed in the south, but no one takes credit for it.

May 9, 2007: In Puntland, up north, a local clan leaders gang kidnapped two UN officials, and are holding them for ransom.

May 4, 2007: Just after a senior UN official arrived in Mogadishu, to inspect relief efforts, a bomb went off at the airport, killing three security personnel. The UN official did not, as planned, stay overnight, but left at the end of the day.


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