Somalia: Islamists crush women’s protest

From The Scotsman, Sept. 26:

Somali Islamists put down a women’s protest against their capture of the port city of Kismayo yesterday.

The rebel group has rapidly expanded its grip on Somalia since it captured the capital, Mogadishu, in June, leaving the interim government increasingly isolated in the small southern town of Baidoa.

In a second day of anti-Islamist protests in Somalia’s third biggest city, dozens of women and children took to streets now patrolled by fighters on pickups with machine-guns.

The Islamists quickly dispersed them, arresting several demonstrators.

Funny to call the Islamic Courts Union a “rebel group” when they actually control the capital. The “official” government at Baidoa is starting to seem more and more like a “rebel group.” A curfew is now in place in Islamist-occupied Kismayo, reports Somalia’s Garowe news service:

The Islamic Courts militias who took over the port city of Kismayo Monday placed a nighttime curfew on the city after an anti-Islamist protest turned violent.

The curfew is to begin at 9 p.m. and will last until 3 a.m. Kismayo residents threw rocks and burned tires to protest against the Islamist takeover earlier in the day.

At least 1 person was reported dead after Islamist militias fired bullets to disperse the crowd.

Somali Prime Minister Ali Muhammad Gedi called the Islamists’ expansion into Kismayo a “violation” of the peace process between the two sides.

Before Monday’s Islamist takeover, Kismayo was ruled a militia coalition led by Somali defense minister Col. Barre “Hirale” Adan Shire.

Legislator Yusuf Mire Serar, Col. Hirale’s ex-vice chairman, declared the coalition defunct and welcomed the Islamist militias into Kismayo.

Col. Barre is defense minister in the “official” government which controls ever less of the country, and he seems to be gearing up for a counter-offensive. From SomaliaNet:

Leader of the collapsed the Juba Valley coalition and minister of defense in the transitional federal government Bare Adam Shire Hirale with battle wagons and militiamen loyal to him reached overnight a village in Gedo region in southwest of Somalia.

Col. Bare and his militia have abandoned the port city of Kismayo after Islamic militants led by Sheikh Hasan Turki got closer to the city wishing to engage war with the coalition. Bare has been ruling there nearly 10 years.

The Islamic Courts then captured the last southern city with out war.

It is not yet known why Col. Bare did so, with some reports say Mr. Bare meant for war technique and is feared to make counter attack.

It is unclear so far his last destination but it is thought to be heading to El-Waq district of Gedo region or Baidoa city, the seat of the government, where he will be regrouping to retake Kismayo city of lower Juba region.

The takeover in kismayo by the Islamic Courts affirms total control of southern Somalia and puts more pressure on the weak government whose authority is limited to Baidoa only.

Is it civil war yet?

See our last post on Somalia.