Somalia: Long Expected Government Offensive Begins


February 25, 2011:  The long (for nearly a year) rumored TNG (Transitional National Government) offensive against the Somali Islamic radicals has apparently begun in the last few days. Al Shabaab, and their smaller allies, have been pushed out of Mogadishu neighborhoods long held by the Islamic radicals, as well as areas on the Kenyan and Ethiopian borders. There have been several hundred casualties, about a third of them civilians, but most of the remainder have been Islamic radicals. In Mogadishu, government troops also captured over 1,500 meters of trenches al Shabaab had dug, to enable them to get close to government and peacekeeper bases without being seen or shot at.

February 24, 2011: A bomb went off at a Kenyan hospital, near where the Somali and Ethiopian borders meet. No one was hurt, but bullets continued to hit the hospital from fighting in nearby Somalia. Several hundred more Kenyan troops were sent to this part of the border, in case armed Somalis tried to cross. The fighting in Somalia is between TNG troops who recently completed training in Ethiopia, and members of Islamic terror groups al Shabaab and Ahlusunna al Islam. Further north, Ethiopian troops attacked al Shabaab fighters who were just across the border. The TNG/AU offensive in Mogadishu continued.

In Mogadishu, a major offensive by AU peacekeepers and newly expanded TNG forces have pushed al Shabaab out of a part of the city (the Defense Ministry compound) that the Islamic radical group had been using as a base, along with nearby factory buildings. Two soldiers and six peacekeepers, and a dozen Islamic terrorists were killed in the day long fight.

February 23, 2011:  Somali pirate gangs announced that they have sent more armed men to guard the 30 ships they are holding (at anchor off the Somali coast). More guards were assigned to the crews of those ships (who are usually held prisoner on land). The pirates made it clear that they would kill their captives if there was any attempt to liberate the ships by force.

The fifteen surviving Somali pirates from the U.S. sailboat Quest, were moved to the American carrier USS Enterprise. The pirates are being sent to the United States for trial on piracy and murder charges.

In several different parts of Somalia, pro-government and peacekeeper troops began attacking Islamic radical gunmen.

February 22, 2011: U.S. warships surrounded the captured sailboat Quest and told the pirates on board that they would not be allowed to take their four American captives to Somalia. Two pirate leaders went to an American warship to negotiate, while 17 other pirates remained on the sailboat with the four American captives. The American FBI negotiator offered to let the pirates take the sailboat to Somalia, if they gave up their four captives. The two pirate leaders refused, perhaps because Western captives from sailboats have brought a few hundred thousand dollars each, and that was too much to give away just because you were trapped by the U.S. Navy. So the U.S. arrested the two pirate leaders and radioed the 17 pirates on the sailboat what the terms were and demanded compliance. The pirates said they would consider the offer. But within an hour, gunfire was heard on the Quest, leaving two pirates and the four Americans dead. U.S. Navy SEALs quickly went aboard and subdued the remaining pirates, killing two that resisted. Most of the pirates seemed intent on surrendering. Somalis are difficult to negotiate with, as they are undisciplined and quick to violence if they disagree with each other, or you. This has been frequently seen by Western aid workers, and one of the things that makes Somalis so scary to neighboring Kenyans, and foreigners in general.

February 21, 2011: In Somaliland, several days of fighting between clans (over land and water issues) has left several dozen dead or wounded.

In Mogadishu, an al Shabaab suicide car bomb went off near a police base, killing at least 17 people (most of them civilians.) There were several other terrorists involved in the attack, which was defeated by the defending police.

February 20, 2011:  Iranian sailors arrested two Somali pirates off the Iranian coast, after the Somalis had been caught using an Iranian fishing boat to attack larger ships. The pirates had seized the Iranian fishing boat in late January.

February 19, 2011: The U.S. president quietly authorized the use of force to free the four Americans taken by pirates off Oman yesterday. This means that the pirates are not going to be allowed to get their captives ashore, or hold them for a long time.

February 18, 2011: A 19 meter (58 foot) sail boat (the Quest), with four Americans aboard, was captured by pirates off the coast of Oman, near the entrance to the Persian Gulf. The pirate's stolen fishing ship, used as a mother ship during the capture of the Quest, moved off while the 19 pirates on the Quest turned the sail boat towards Somalia. American warships were alerted and four of them began closing in on the Quest.





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