At least seven were killed and 15 wounded in southern Somalia after Shabaab insurgents attacked a clan militia base in the outskirts of Kismayo. The fighting erupted late April 20 and continued into the following morning, in a town called Bulo Haji, some 90 kilometers southwest of Kismayo, a strategic port city and the capital of Lower Jubba region.
The Somali parliament voted April 18 to adopt Islamic sharia law. A parliamentary spokesperson said that more than 300 Somali MPs voted for the implementation of sharia as part of an attempt by Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed to bring stability to the "failed state." Last month, Ahmed announced that he would support the imposition of a moderate form of sharia as part of a cease-fire agreement with the country's Hizb al-Islamiya and al-Shabaab rebels.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced a new US initiative April 15 to battle piracy off Somalia, and said she has formed a diplomatic team to press Somali leaders "to take action against pirates operating from bases within their territories." She added: "These pirates are criminals. They are armed gangs on the sea. And those plotting attacks must be stopped."
A Navy missile destroyer, the USS Bainbridge, has arrived to help end an ongoing standoff between four Somali pirates and their American hostage off the east coast of Somalia. The hostage, the captain of the container ship, the Maersk Alabama, is being held captive in a lifeboat after a hijacking attempt early April 8.
Hundreds of families in Somalia's self-declared republic of Somaliland have fled inter-clan fighting in the mid-west Satiile area in Gabiley region, local officials report. The fighting, the second flare-up in three months, started on 7 April after a group of men drove into Satiile settlement area and shot dead a local farmer and wounded his brother.
Twenty years after a military regime killed hundreds of mostly black Mauritanians, another military government is promising to compensate their families. While some victims' associations welcome reparations, other affected families and many NGOs say compensation equals impunity for those who ordered the killings—and remain in power.
An airstrike that targeted a convoy of arm smugglers inside Sudan in January was launched by Israeli warplanes and not US ones, according to growing reports. On March 25, a Sudanese government official said that a "major power bombed small trucks carrying arms" northwest of Port Sudan city killing Sudanese, Eritreans and Ethiopians. But CBS News quoted unidentified US officials denying involvement in the operation—and saying "Israeli aircraft carried out the attack."
In a new audio statement posted on the Internet, Osama bin Laden called on Somali militants to overthrow the country's new President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed—himself a former leader of the Islamic Courts Union. In the 12-minute tape, which could not be immediately verified, bin Laden said: "This Sheik Sharif...must be fought and toppled... He is like the [Arab] presidents who are in the pay of our enemies." (News Hour, March 19)