Somalia port boss killed, car bomb leaves 11 dead

Workers offload barrels from a ship at the Port of Bosaso in Somalia’s Puntland. Paul Anthony Formosa, a project manager for DP World subsidiary P&O Ports, was killed inside the port. (Reuters)
Updated 05 February 2019
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Somalia port boss killed, car bomb leaves 11 dead

  • Paul Anthony Formosa, a Maltese national, was manager at Bosaso for P&O Ports, a subsidiary of the Dubai-based DP World
  • Building collapses as a result of deadly blast in Hamarweyne market

MOGADISHU: Somalia’s Al-Shabab terrorists on Monday shot dead the Maltese manager of a port, while detonating a car bomb in the capital which killed 11 people and wounded several others.

In a deadly day for the restive nation, a gunman shot Maltese national Paul Anthony Formosa, manager of the port of Bossasso in semi-autonomous Puntland state for P&O Ports, a subsidiary of the Dubai-based DP World.

Shortly thereafter a powerful explosion from a car bomb rocked the busy Hamarweyne market in the capital Mogadishu, killing 11 people in the latest attack from the Al-Qaeda affiliate plaguing the country.

“An armed man shot and killed Paul Anthony Formosa who was the construction project manager for DP World. He was killed inside the port and the security forces also shot the killer on the spot,” said local security official, Mohamed Dahir.

The Dubai government confirmed the death in a statement on Twitter and said the circumstances of the incident were being investigated. “Three other employees have been injured in this morning’s incident, and all are currently receiving medical treatment,” read the statement.

The attack was claimed by Al-Shabab, which said in a statement it was “part of broader operations targeting the mercenary companies that loot the Somali resources.”

The DP World subsidiary in 2017 signed a 30-year concession contract for the management and development of the port, strategically located on the Gulf of Aden, between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, more than 1,300 km north of Mogadishu.

The Dubai-based ports company has sparked friction with Mogadishu over its development of ports in Berbera in breakaway Somaliland — whose independence is not recognized —  as well as Puntland.

Al-Shabab also claimed responsibility for the car bomb in Mogadishu, via a statement on a pro-Shabab website.

“The blast occurred close to Mogadishu mall and it has caused death and destruction,” police officer Ahmed Moalin Ali said.

“The terrorists parked a vehicle loaded with explosives in the vicinity of the mall to kill the innocent civilians.”

He said some of the victims died in a building that collapsed as a result of the blast in the Hamarweyne market.

“I saw the dead bodies of four people recovered from the debris of a collapsed building and three others were strewn dead outside after the blast had blown them,” said shopper Munira Abdukadir.

“I was not far away from the blast location, but I was lucky to have survived, several people were wounded and some were screaming before the ambulances arrived,” said another witness, Abdulahi Mohammed.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since the 1991 overthrow of President Siad Barre’s military regime which ushered in decades of chaos — including an insurrection by Al-Shabab since 2006.

The group once held sway over large swathes of countryside and the capital, however they were chased out of Mogadishu by the 22,000-strong African Union peace-enforcement mission, AMISOM in 2011, and have since abandoned many strongholds.

They nevertheless control vast rural areas and remain a key threat to peace in Somalia and the region, with the capacity to stage significant attacks.

In October 2017, a truck bombing in a busy neighborhood of Mogadishu killed over 500 people in the deadliest attack in Somalia to date.

On Jan. 15, Al-Shabab gunmen — and the first-ever suicide bomber in Kenya — attacked the Dusit hotel and office complex in Nairobi, leaving 21 dead and prompting police and the US Embassy to urge caution in public spaces.


US envoy ‘disappointed’ by collapse of inter-Afghan peace meeting

Updated 19 April 2019
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US envoy ‘disappointed’ by collapse of inter-Afghan peace meeting

  • A 250-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures had been due to meet Taliban officials in Doha at the weekend
  • The event was abruptly canceled on Thursday amid arguments over the size and status of the group

KABUL: The US envoy for peace in Afghanistan expressed disappointment on Friday after the collapse of a planned meeting between the Taliban and a group of Afghan politicians in Qatar that exposed some of the deep divisions hampering efforts to end the war.
A 250-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures had been due to meet Taliban officials in Doha at the weekend. The event was abruptly canceled on Thursday amid arguments over the size and status of the group, which included some government officials attending in a personal capacity.
“I’m disappointed Qatar’s intra-Afghan initiative has been delayed,” Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghan reconciliation, said on Twitter. “I urge all sides to seize the moment and put things back on track by agreeing to a participant list that speaks for all Afghans.”
The collapse of the meeting before it had even started, described as a “fiasco” by one senior Western official, laid bare the tensions that have hampered moves toward opening formal peace negotiations.
Khalilzad, a veteran Afghan-born diplomat, has held a series of meetings with Taliban representatives but the insurgents have so far refused to talk to the Western-backed government in Kabul, which they dismiss as a “puppet” regime.
The Doha meeting was intended to prepare the ground for possible future talks by building familiarity among Taliban officials and representatives of the Afghan state created after the US-led campaign that toppled the Taliban government in 2001. A similar encounter was held in Moscow in February.
President Ashraf Ghani’s office blamed Qatari authorities for the cancelation, saying they had authorized a list of participants that differed from the one proposed by Kabul, “which meant disrespect for the national will of the Afghans.”
“This act is not acceptable for the people of Afghanistan,” it said in a statement on Friday.
Sultan Barakat, director of the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies in Qatar, which had been facilitating the meeting, said there was no disagreement about the agenda.
“Rather, there is insufficient agreement around participation and representation to enable the conference to be a success,” he tweeted.
Preparations had already been undermined by disagreements on the government side about who should attend, as well as by suspicions among rival politicians ahead of presidential elections scheduled for September.
The Taliban derided the agreed list of 250 participants as a “wedding party.” Some senior opposition figures who had been included refused to attend.
The Taliban also objected to Ghani’s comments to a meeting of delegates that they would be representing the Afghan nation and the Afghan government, a statement that went against the insurgents’ refusal to deal with the Kabul administration.