Somalia: Ethiopia takes Mogadishu; martial law imposed; Yemen fires on refugees

Ali Mohamad Gedi, prime minister of Somalia’s Federal Transition Government (FTG) announced his parliament will declare a period of martial law to maintain control of the country after Ethiopian and FTG troops wrested the capital from Islamists Dec. 28. “This country has experienced anarchy and in order to restore security we need a strong hand, especially with freelance militias,” he said, speaking from Mundul Sharey, a village some 40 km southwest of Mogadishu. FTG spokesman Abdirahman Dinari said the Islamists had fled to the southern port city of Kismayu and that the administration now controlled 95% of Somalia. (Reuters, Dec. 29)

On Dec. 28, Yemeni authorities opened fire on boats filled with refugees fleeing the violence in Somalia and at least 17 people drowned when one of the vessels capsized, the UN refugee agency reported. About 140 people were missing.

The incident took place in the Gulf of Aden when four boats smuggling 515 people were spotted by Yemeni authorities, UNHCR said. “I am deeply saddened by this latest tragedy involving smugglers’ boats carrying desperate people across the Gulf of Aden,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres. UNHCR said 357 surviving refugees were taken to its Mayfa’a reception center in Yemen where they were given food and medical attention. (AP, Dec. 28)

See our last post on the Horn of Africa.