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Dozens dead in Somali mosque blasts

Twin bomb attacks near a mosque in Mogadishu, Somalia kill 39 people and injure 70, the bombs were placed at opposite ends of the ground floor of the Abdala Shideye Mosque as people were awaiting the Dhuhr midday prayers.

It is believed that Fuad Mohamed Kalaf, an upper-level official within Al-Shabaab, was the intended target of the attacks. Kalif was reported to have suffered only minor injuries to his hands.

Somalia, which has not had a functional central government since the 1991 deposing of President Siad Barre, is controlled by several different factions. The area of the capital where the bombings occurred, including the mosque and the Bakara market, is under the control of Al-Shabaab, a militant organisation that is engaged in a struggle against the United Nations backed Transitional Federal Government.

The attack was the deadliest in Mogadishu since the Hotel Shambo bombing in December 2009.

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al-Shabaab group seizes three towns

According to witness reports, three towns in the Galgudud region of Somalia have been taken over by the counter-government group al-Shabaab, taking them from a rival group, the pro-government Ahlu Sunna.

al-Shabaab flag

The three taken towns were El Der, Galad, and Masagaway; they were taken over without any resistance from Ahlu Sunna. All three are on the road to the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Senior al-Shabaab official Sheik Yusuf Kabokudukade commented that “[w]e have overrun the militants who tried to stop the efforts to spread Islam in Somalia.

With the power of Allah we have taken control of three districts in Galgadud region. We will not stop until we take control of the whole region from the enemy of Allah.”

The al-Shabaab group controls large portions of southern central Somalia, and part of of Mogadishu.

Many dead in two attacks in Somalia

A land mine blast in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, has killed eight people, and mortars launched by rebels at the city airport killed six others, according to witnesses and doctors.

The al-Shabaab group was said to be responsible for both the attacks by police officials, although they did not claim responsibility for it.

“All the mortar rounds missed the airport but landed in civilian areas,” Ali Muse, coordinator of ambulance services, told Reuters news agency. Five of the six people were killed in the Bakara market, four of them being women. The rebels opened fire soon after President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and the parliament speaker arrived late on Saturday. Read More…

Pirates hijack Norwegian tanker

Somali pirates seized the Norwegian chemical tanker UBT Ocean off the coast of Madagascar yesterday, according to reports.

The Norwegian News Agency reports that the ship, which is Marshall Islands-flagged, has 21 crew members aboard.

Svenn Pedersen of the ship’s owner, Broevigtank, said yesterday that “[t]he captain of the ship called us early this morning and told us: We have pirates on board. Very quickly afterwards we lost all contact with the boat.” Pedersen commented that the tanker had taken a route to the south of where Somali pirates are usually active. Read More…

Somali militants block UN food aid

Al-Shabaab, the Somali opposition group, has said it will stop food operations by the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) in the country, accusing the agency of being politically motivated and disadvantaging local farmers.

Al-Shabaab said that the agency was ruining local farming, as the quantity of the food aid didn’t allow farmers to sell their goods at reasonable prices.

A statement from the group read that “[g]iven the problems caused by the food WFP distributed, the movement of Shabab Al-Mujahideen banned the operations of the agency in Somalia generally starting from today. The contractors working with WFP must avoid collaborating […] anyone working with the agency will be seen serving the interest of WFP.” Read More…

UN stops food aid to southern Somalia

With violence against foreigners escalating daily, and after being deluged with various threats and demands from al-Shabaab, a radical Islamic militant group with ties to al-Qaeda.

The United Nations World Food Programme announced on Tuesday that, as of the end of this week, they are going to suspend all of their operations within southern Somalia—including the distribution of desperately need food aid to Somali civilians. This is now the third humanitarian agency, after CARE International and Doctors Without Borders, to evacuate from the war-torn nation.

The pull out, which will include the closing down of all UN offices and the withdrawal of all local staff, is going to effect over one million Somalis—many of whom relay on this food program for their daily meals. Read More…

Killed and wounded in Somalia clash

The death toll is up to at least 40 from a battle between two Islamist groups in central Somalia.

The insurgent group al-Shabab attacked the town of Dhusamareb Saturday, trying to seize it from Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jamaa, a group that backs the Somali government.

Al-Shabab claimed control of the town late Saturday, but Ahlu-Sunna says it beat back the assault and inflicted heavy casualties on al-Shabab’s fighters.

This was the first fighting in Dhusamareb since Ahlu-Sunna took control of the town from al-Shabab in December 2008. Read More…