AU Condemns Somali Insurgent Attacks on AMISIOM Supply Ship
By Peter Clottey
13 February 2009
The African Union (AU) has sharply condemned Islamic insurgent attacks on a ship carrying logistics for its peacekeeping troops (AMISOM) in Somalia's capital Mogadishu. The ambush operations left at least three people dead. No group has claimed responsibility, but the Islamic hardliner group al-Shabab vowed Wednesday to attack any ship carrying military support for the AU mission. Described by Washington as a terrorist organization, al-Shabab also warned it will soon launch fresh attacks on AU troops in Somalia, promising to take over the country and institute Sharia law. Major General Abdi Hassan Awale is the Somali Inspector general of Police and was present during the attack. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that without logistical support, it would be a big challenge for Somali police to contain the threat posed by al-Shabab.
"Around 11:30 in the morning and I was there at the seaport when we got the attacks from the Islamic insurgents. From 11:30 up to 4 o'clock, there have been eleven attacks. Although there were casualties, so far as I know, there have been three deaths and 11 wounded," said Major General Awale.
He said despite al-Shabab threats to attack ships carrying logistical support for the AU mission, there was no damage to the ship with the supplies.
"They said that they will attack the AMISOM shipment, but the ship carrying the supplies to AMISOM had no damage after the attacks. The only problem was that those workers at the seaport and the cargo carried by the Somali business group carrying food and some items were affected," he said.
Major General Awale said it would be challenging to contain threats of an Islamic hardliner group like al-Shabab.
"You know al-Shabab controls lots of places in this country including many regions and districts. So it is difficult to control them, although with a national plan and support from the government, we can control them. I believe that if the Somali people welcome the reconciliation process as well as the election of the new president, we can do something. I also think if the Somali force is reorganized and logistics provided as well as training, I think that is the only way to contain the problem coming from al-Shabab," Major General Awale pointed out.
He said without international support it would be difficult for Somali police to provide adequate security in Mogadishu.
"The police first of all are in need of international community support, such as financial and logistics, as well as other things. Without the assistance, I think the police cannot do anything about al-Shabab," he said.
Major General Awale described the working relationship between the AU peacekeeping mission and Somali police as refreshing.
"The cooperation between the police and AMISIOM is very good. We are working together very well, but at the same time Somalia is a very big country, and Mogadishu the capital is very populated. And the number of AMISOM, as well as the number of police personnel, is very limited. So we cannot cover every place in the capital unless we have more recruits and retraining, as well as accompanied logistical supplies. I think we can deal with the threats of al-Shabab since the group does not have a lot of members," Major General Awale noted.
Al-Shabab has sharply denied reports it is negotiating with the country's new President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, saying it will never meet with him. The group says it is strongly opposed to new government and vowed more attacks to take over the country.
Al-Shabab spokesman Sheik Muqtar Robow Abu Mansur said that President Ahmed's government does not implement Islamic law in the war-torn Horn of Africa country, and he warned African countries considering sending forces to Somalia as peacekeepers that they will come under attack from the group's fighters.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|