Somalia: Mogadishu evacuated; pirates besiege harbor

As Somali insurgents square off against Ethiopian and government troops in Somalia’s capital city of Mogadishu, bands of pirates have been making life increasingly difficult for ships coming in and out of the city’s harbour. An Indian cargo vessel was hijacked April 2, and a UAE-registered ship narrowly managed escape as it pulled into the sea April 4. (, April 4)

On April 2, Sudan Ali Ahmed, chairman of Elman Human Rights Organization, which monitors the Mogadish violence, told AP: “For the last four days we have registered 381 deaths and 565 people wounded.”

That day, Somalia’s transitional government called on civilians in the capital to leave their homes in disputed areas ahead of a new military offensive against the Islamist insurgency. Salad Ali Jelle, the deputy defense minister, said the government does not recognize a cease-fire negotiated between clan elders and the Ethiopian military.

“We call on the civilians living in terrorist-held areas in Mogadishu to abandon their houses because it is possible that government troops may target these areas any time,” Jelle said. “We have to clean al-Qaeda elements from Mogadishu.” (AP, April 2)

In an April 4 press release, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said almost 100,000 people have fled Mogishu since the beginning of February, including some 47,000 in the last two weeks. (Xinhua, April 4)

See our last post on Somalia.