[Dehai-WN] NYTimes.com: Aid Group Says Refugee Camp in Somalia Was Hit by Airstrike

[Dehai-WN] NYTimes.com: Aid Group Says Refugee Camp in Somalia Was Hit by Airstrike

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Mon, 31 Oct 2011 22:52:11 +0100

Aid Group Says Refugee Camp in Somalia Was Hit by Airstrike


Published: October 31, 2011

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Kenya and Somalia on Monday called for other nations to
help in their fight against Islamist insurgents, as an aid organization said
that five civilians were killed and more than 50 injured when a military
aircraft hunting the militants struck a displaced-persons camp in southern

Prime Minister Raila Odinga of Kenya, center, and Prime Minister Abdiweli
Mohamed Ali of Somalia, left, spoke to reporters in Nairobi on Monday. Mr.
Ali said the two countries shared a common goal to vanquish the Shabab.

Most of the victims and injured were women and children, the organization

In a meeting in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, delegations from Somalia and
Kenya, which has sent hundreds of soldiers backed by tanks and gunships into
Somalia in
ion-far-in-advance.html> a premeditated assault to vanquish the Shabab
Islamist militant group, called for a naval blockade on the
Shabab-controlled seaport of Kismayo.

A Somali government spokesman said Somalia was calling on “big countries and
big organizations,” to help with the naval blockade of Kismayo, a major
moneymaker and densely populated stronghold for the Shabab inside Somalia.

While the official did not name any countries specifically, he did say that
Somalia was interested in help from NATO, whose United Nations-backed
intervention in Libya officially ended on Monday.

A spokesman from the Kenyan government said the two countries had “already
requested the other countries and partners” with consistent interest in
Somalia to help further. Those countries, he said, included “European
countries, and the United States.”

The American government has said it is playing no direct or indirect role in
Kenya’s operations in Somalia. Memories of the American operation in Somalia
in 1993, memorialized in the 2001 Hollywood movie “Black Hawk Down,” have
kept an overt presence of American troops away from Somalia. However, the
United States
l> has carried out drone attacks inside Somalia and
ed=all> relies on private contractors to help advance its interests as well.

Currently, Uganda and Burundi provide troops to an African Union
er> peacekeeping mission here, which has supported Somalia’s weak,
American-backed government in taking control of much of Mogadishu.

More African nations are believed to soon follow. A communiqué from the
Eastern African Standby Force, a coalition of East African militaries,
indicates that more than 100 officers and medical personnel, including
military trainers, medical technicians and equipment, along with logistical
support, will be sent to the African Union peacekeeping force. The
peacekeepers have suffered heavy casualties recently in gun battles and
suicide attacks from the Shabab.

The African Union controls Mogadishu, while the Kenyan military, operating
independently and alongside government forces and a mix of ragtag militias,
is trying to clear the Shabab out of southern Somalia.

The Kenyan army is well-equipped and well-trained, but it has virtually no
experience fighting a conventional foreign war. Furthermore, rains have been
bogging down the troops on the ground.

So airstrikes have spiked up. On Oct. 18, the Kenyan military said it had
killed 73 Shabab members in southern Somalia. Several days later, the
military said it had struck the coastal border city of Ras Kamboni. Last
week, Kenyan aircraft struck the city of Anole, also in southern Somalia,
killing 19 Shabab militants, according to the military.

But on Sunday, an aircraft launched a strike on the town of Jilib, which
lies in Shabab territory, hitting a humanitarian camp where roughly 7,500
Somalis suffering from the famine were taking shelter, according to Doctors
Without Borders.

Kenya confirmed on Monday an airstrike the day before in the area, but it
said it had hit a Shabab training camp, not a humanitarian camp, killing 10
militants and injuring 47.

“We hit an Al Shabab camp; 500 meters from that camp is an internally
displaced persons camp,” said a Kenyan military spokesman, Maj. Emmanuel
Chirchir. He said that Shabab militants had tried to fight back with a
vehicle armed with antiaircraft guns, but mistakenly drove into the
humanitarian camp after the vehicle was hit by Kenyan aircraft. “It was
already burning, and because of all the ammunition, it exploded,” Major
Chirchir said.

Worries are growing that the war is exacerbating an already grim
humanitarian situation.

“The new escalation in fighting and insecurity along the Kenya-Somalia
border risks increasing the suffering for civilians already devastated by
drought and conflict,” another aid organization, Oxfam, said last month
ing-risks-increasing-famine-suffering> in a statement. “The situation in
Somalia is increasingly alarming.”


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