Mogadishu restricts movement of trucks, tankers after attacks

Civilians assist a man, injured from a suicide car bomb explosion, in Mogadishu on Saturday. (Reuters)
Updated 30 October 2017

Mogadishu restricts movement of trucks, tankers after attacks

MOGADISHU: Somali authorities imposed a daytime ban on Monday on the movement of large trucks and road tankers inside the capital Mogadishu in an attempt to improve security following a wave of devastating attacks by militants.
The move followed twin truck bombings on Oct. 15 that killed more than 350 people in the city, in the deadliest attack in the history of the Horn of Africa nation.
Though the militant group Al-Shabab did not claim responsibility for that attack, the method is one it has often used.
“Trucks and tankers cannot pass... from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. This is to ensure security and (to offer) a solution to the complaints of the public,” Tabid Abdi, the capital’s mayor, said in a statement.
“Any truck or tanker driver who does not comply will be fined $1,000.”
Further underlining the Somali capital’s security woes, at least 29 people were killed on Sunday during a 12-hour siege at a Mogadishu hotel, in an attack claimed by Al-Shabab. The government sacked two top security officials.
“They had the uniforms of security forces, even though they did not have ID cards,” Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman told Reuters.
Al-Shabab said 40 people had been killed, including three of its fighters who stormed the hotel.
Al-Shabab aims to topple the government in Mogadishu and impose its own strict interpretation of Islam. The country has been at war since 1991, when clan-based warlords overthrew dictator Siad Barre and then turned on each other.
Though it has lost large swathes of territory to African Union peacekeepers, the group’s attacks have grown in frequency and size, as a 22,000-strong peacekeeping force prepares to begin withdrawing.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed said the latest attack was meant to instill fear in the thousands of Somalis who marched through Mogadishu in defiance of Al-Shabab after the earlier bombing.
Since that blast, the president has visited countries in the region to seek more support for the fight against Al-Shabab, vowing a “state of war.” He also faces the challenge of pulling together regional powers inside his long-fractured country, where the federal government is trying to assert itself beyond Mogadishu and other major cities.
The US military also has stepped up military efforts against Al-Shabab this year in Somalia, carrying out nearly 20 drone strikes.
The 22,000-member multinational African Union (AU) force in Somalia is expected to withdraw and hand over security to the Somali military by the end of 2020. US military officials and others in recent months have expressed concern that Somali forces are not ready to take over.
The defense minister and army chief of staff resigned early this month amid reports of rivalry between the two and after Al-Shabab stepped up its attacks on army bases.


Grace 1 tanker raises Iranian flag, changes name to ‘Adrian Darya-1’

Updated 37 min 47 sec ago

Grace 1 tanker raises Iranian flag, changes name to ‘Adrian Darya-1’

  • British Royal Marines seized the vessel in Gibraltar in July on suspicion that it was carrying oil to Syria
  • Gibraltar lifted a detention order on the vessel on Thursday but its fate was further complicated by the US

GIBRALTAR: An Iranian tanker caught in a stand-off between Tehran and the West has raised an Iranian flag and has had a new name painted on its side, Reuters images of the stationary vessel filmed off Gibraltar showed on Sunday.
British Royal Marines seized the vessel in Gibraltar in July on suspicion that it was carrying oil to Syria, a close ally of Iran, in violation of European Union sanctions.
Video footage and photographs showed the tanker flying the red, green and white flag of Iran and bearing the new name of ‘Adrian Darya-1’ painted in white on its hull. Its previous name, ‘Grace 1’, had been painted over. The vessel’s anchor was still down.
The Grace 1 had originally flown the Panamian flag but Panama’s Maritime Authority said in July that the vessel had been de-listed after an alert that indicated the ship had participated in or was linked to terrorism financing.
Gibraltar lifted a detention order on the vessel on Thursday but its fate was further complicated by the United States, which made a last-ditch legal appeal to hold it.
The initial impounding of the Grace 1 kicked off a sequence of events that saw Tehran seize a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf two weeks later, heightening tension on a vital international oil shipping route.
That tanker, the Stena Impero, is still detained.
The two vessels have since become pawns in a bigger game, feeding into wider hostilities since the United States last year pulled out of an international agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program, and reimposed economic sanctions.