Somalia fighting kills at least five, journalist shot dead

Updated 25 May 2012
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Somalia fighting kills at least five, journalist shot dead

MOGADISHU: At least five people were killed when a shell hit the minibus they were using to flee fighting in a town north west of the capital, as African Union and government soldiers intensify their fight against Al-Shabab militants.
Earlier this week, African Union and Somali government troops stepped up their attacks on Al-Shabab militants in Mogadishu’s northern outskirts, forcing hundreds of families to flee their makeshift homes and head for the city center.
An official in Mogadishu said those killed were hit by a shell in their van as they fled Lafole, 21 km (13 miles) northwest of Mogadishu, while nine others were wounded.
“A shell landed on a mini-bus fleeing from Lafole. Five died and nine others were wounded today,” Ali Musa, coordinator of ambulance services, told Reuters.
It was not clear who fired the shell.
The AU force, which already controls most of the capital, is trying to push its way through the Afgoye corridor, once a rural area northwest of Mogadishu but now home to hundreds of thousands of Somalis uprooted from their homes.
A spokesman for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said their forces were on the outskirts of Afgoye, but were holding off attacking to avoid civilian casualties and destroying property. He added that seven of their soldiers were wounded in fighting on Wednesday and Thursday.
“We met resistance at our base in Arbiska (22 km to the north east of Mogadishu). We will not be lured to fight among the civilians - we chased Al-Shabab,” Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda told Reuters.
Residents said they saw AU and Somali government troops at Baar Ismail at the entrance of Afgoye - a strategic junction at the edge of the town.
They said hundreds of people had fled from Afgoye, Elasha and Lafole towns for a third day, while Al-Shabab also fled to remote southern towns apart from a few fighters who remained to fight.
The Afgoye corridor, thought to house the largest concentration of internally displaced people in the world, stretches some 30 km northwest of Mogadishu to the Al-Shabab stronghold of Afgoye.
The African Union has said that by securing the Afgoye corridor it would give some 400,000 people access to aid.
Al Shabab has waged a bloody five-year insurgency to remove Somalia’s Western-backed government and impose its harsh interpretation of sharia, Islamic law, on a country that has had no central government for the last two decades .
It still controls swathes of central and southern Somalia but is being gradually squeezed out of its strongholds by Kenyan and Ethiopian troops who have launched their own incursions into Somalia, and is being pushed out of Mogadishu by AU forces.
Underscoring the violence prevailing in the country, unidentified gunmen shot and killed Ahmed Addow Anshur, a producer and reporter for the Mogadishu-based Radio Shabelle, on Thursday, his colleague Mohamed Bashir said, adding that he too had received text message threats.
“He is the third Shabelle radio reporter killed in the same district this year. We are really in grief for losing him,” Bashir told Reuters.
The killing was condemned by the National Union of Somali Journalists, and by Augustine Mahiga, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia.
“It is well known that Somali journalists have the most difficult working conditions in the world. But that does not make it any easier to accept when one is brutally killed,” Mahiga said in a statement.
“This cycle of violence must stop.”
The union said that Anshur’s killing brought the number of journalists killed in Somalia this year to six. The country is ranked the most dangerous in Africa for journalists by media rights group Reporters Without Borders.


Politician Anwar Ibrahim lauds Malaysian reform movement

Updated 21 min 51 sec ago
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Politician Anwar Ibrahim lauds Malaysian reform movement

  • Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is making good on his promises by replacing key government officials
  • Anwar Ibrahim was speaking at a press conference with former Indonesian President Bacharudin Jusuf Habibie

JAKARTA: Malaysia’s reform movement is on the right track, the country’s veteran politician Anwar Ibrahim said on Sunday at a press conference with former Indonesian President Bacharudin Jusuf Habibie.
A week after he was sworn in, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is making good on his promises by replacing key government officials with those who are committed to reform, Ibrahim added.
He was in Jakarta for a two-day visit at the invitation of Habibie, who ushered in reform in Indonesia after three decades of dictatorship.
“Indonesia’s experience of transforming from the old system was able to change society into a democratic system,” Ibrahim said.
A team from Malaysia should evaluate and review Indonesia’s experience in reform, from Habibie’s administration to that of current President Joko Widodo, Ibrahim added.
Key government institutions in Malaysia, such as the judicial system, should be led by officials who are committed to reform and willing to serve the people, he said. Habibie said both countries can learn from each other about reform.
Ibrahim said he told Mohamad that the probe against former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak over the alleged misuse of state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) should be in accordance with the law.
“I firmly told… Mahathir to follow the law. Do not punish before we have a thorough investigation,” said Ibrahim. “Do not repeat what they did to me. Just do it according to the law.”
He said Mohamad gave assurances to Razak that the judges will be free from any political influence, and he advised the former prime minister to find a good lawyer.
The visit was Ibrahim’s first trip abroad since he was released from jail and cleared of all sodomy charges last week.