Deadly incidents leave nine civilians, many policemen dead in Somalia

Security forces stand near the wreckage of an official vehicle that was destroyed in a bomb attack in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia, on Saturday. (AP)
Updated 17 June 2019

Deadly incidents leave nine civilians, many policemen dead in Somalia

  • Local officials have in the past fingered the Rahanweyn clan for fomenting instability in the region and supplying militants to Al-Shabab

MOGADISHU/NAIROBI: Nine civilians were executed by a local militia in war-torn Somalia after the killing of a policeman by the militant group Al-Shabab, police said on Saturday.
Separately, a roadside bomb hit a police vehicle patrolling near Kenya’s border with Somalia, killing several of the 11 officers inside, a police spokesman said.
Exact casualty figures from Saturday’s patrol attack were still unclear, police spokesman Charles Owino told Reuters. Both attacks were claimed by Somali insurgents who also kidnapped three Kenyan police reservists on Friday from the same area in Wajir district in northeast Kenya.
The revenge attack on Friday just outside Galkayo — one of the most developed cities in the center of the country — targeted the Rahanweyn clan, several of whose members are suspected of being Al-Shabab militants.
“This was a horrible incident, a gruesome killing against nine unarmed innocent civilians in southern Galkayo. All of the civilians belong to one clan and the gunmen shot them dead in one location a few minutes after suspected Al-Shabab gunmen killed” a policeman, Mohamed Abdirahman, a local police official said.
“This is an unacceptable act and we will bring those perpetrators to justice,” said Hussein Dini, a traditional elder.
“Their killing cannot be justified. It seems that the merciless gunmen were retaliating for the security official who they believe was killed by Al-Shabab gunmen belonging to the clan of the victims.”

Fomenting instability
Witnesses told local media that the victims were rounded up from the streets or their homes and then shot dead on the outskirts of Galkayo. Local officials have in the past fingered the Rahanweyn clan for fomenting instability in the region and supplying militants to Al-Shabab.

SPEEDREAD

The local militia which staged the revenge attack are from the Saad Habargidir, a sub-clan of the Hawiye group which is dominant in the southern part of the city.

The local militia which staged the revenge attack are from the Saad Habargidir, a sub-clan of the Hawiye group which is dominant in the southern part of the city.
Galkayo, situated about 600 km north of the capital Mogadishu, straddles the frontier with the self-proclaimed autonomous regions of Puntland and Galmudug.
The city has been the scene of violent clashes between forces of the two regions in recent years and also witnessed violence between the two rival clans occupying its northern and southern districts.


Russia warns Belarus will pay price for contractors’ arrests

Updated 05 August 2020

Russia warns Belarus will pay price for contractors’ arrests

  • Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, said that the Belarusian leadership has turned bilateral ties into “small change in the election campaign”
  • Medvedev described the arrested contractors as part of a “simple political technology — to create an enemy image and to achieve a political result using that enemy image”

MOSCOW: Russia’s security chief described the arrest of 33 Russian private military contractors in Belarus as a presidential campaign stunt and warned Wednesday that it would have grave consequences for ties between the two neighbors and allies.
Authorities arrested the Russian contractors outside the capital of Minsk last week on charges of planning to stage mass riots, amid an upsurge of opposition protests ahead of the Sunday election — in which Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is seeking a sixth term.
Russia has demanded the release of the contractors for a private firm, saying they only were in Belarus because they missed a connecting flight to another country. The government in Minsk has further irked Moscow by raising the possibility that some of the contractors could be handed over to Ukraine, which wants them on charges of fighting alongside Russia-backed separatists.
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, sharply raised the stakes in the dispute Wednesday, saying that the Belarusian leadership has turned bilateral ties into “small change in the election campaign.”
Without mentioning Lukashenko by name, Medvedev described the arrested contractors as part of a “simple political technology — to create an enemy image and to achieve a political result using that enemy image.”
“It’s not only offensive, it’s very sad,” said Medvedev, who served as Russia’s president in 2008-2012 and then as prime minister for the next eight years, before becoming No. 2 in the Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin. “And it will entail sad consequences, too.”
Throughout his 26 years in office, the authoritarian Lukashenko has relied on Russian subsidies and loans to shore up his nation’s Soviet-style economy but fiercely resisted Moscow’s push for control over Belarus’s economic assets.
The Kremlin turned the heat up on the Belarusian president earlier this year by withdrawing some of the subsidies and warning the government it would have to accept closer economic and political integration to continue receiving Russian energy at a discount.
Lukashenko denounced Moscow’s position as part of Russia’s alleged efforts to deprive Belarus of its independence.
The 65-year-old president alleged in a state-of-the-nation address on Tuesday that another group of “militants” had been sent to southern Belarus, but gave no details. He warned Moscow against trying to fuel tensions in his country, saying that the instability could spread to Russia.
In a move certain to anger the Kremlin even more, Lukashenko had a phone call Wednesday with the president of Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy asked for Belarus to hand over 28 of the arrested Russians so they can be prosecuted for allegedly fighting alongside Russia-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Belarusian authorities claimed the arrested contractors worked for the Wagner company. The private military firm is linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessman who was indicted in the United States for meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
Wagner has allegedly deployed hundreds of military contractors to eastern Ukraine, Syria and Libya.