Limited US military assistance will resume to some Somali troops

Somali soldiers patrol Sanguuni military base south of Mogadishu, Somalia. (AFP/File)
Updated 02 July 2019

Limited US military assistance will resume to some Somali troops

  • The aid would include food, fuel and limited non-lethal equipment to a single unit of the Somali National Army
  • Somalia has been riven by civil war since 1991, when warlords overthrew a clan dictator then turned on each other

NAIROBI: The United States is resuming some assistance to a unit of the Somali military that is not working directly with US forces, US officials said on Tuesday, around 18 months after aid was suspended to such units over widespread corruption concerns.
The assistance, part of US military aid to the country aimed at helping the government fend off Islamist insurgents, was suspended in December 2017 after the Somali military was unable to account for food and fuel.
US and Somali investigators visiting bases also found far fewer soldiers than had been reported. Many of the men present were missing their guns, indicating they were not ready for active duty.
The resumption of assistance of units not working directly with US forces will be on a pilot basis, a press release from the U.S. embassy in Mogadishu said.
"On the basis of internal reforms made by the Federal Government of Somalia and an inspection of the recipient unit, the United States assesses that the Federal Government of Somalia and the SNA (Somali National Army) have undertaken significant efforts to improve accountability over donor resources," the release said.
The aid would include food, fuel and limited non-lethal equipment to a single unit of the Somali National Army, a spokeswoman for the embassy told Reuters in an email.
"The Department (of State) intends to implement a robust monitoring and verification mechanism to ensure accountability, including through the use of third-party monitors to conduct physical site inspections to confirm end-user receipt and use," she said.
The aid suspension did not affect some Somali military units, like the Special Forces group Danab that is trained directly by US forces.
Somalia has been riven by civil war since 1991, when warlords overthrew a clan dictator then turned on each other. The US also helps fund an African Union force that is supporting the weak, U.N.-backed government against Islamist insurgent group al Shabaab.


Houston building explosion shakes city, scatters debris

Updated 24 January 2020

Houston building explosion shakes city, scatters debris

  • The Houston Fire Department said one person was taken to a hospital because of the blast
  • The explosion appeared to be centered on an industrial building and some nearby homes were damaged
HOUSTON: A large explosion at an apparent industrial building in Houston early Friday was felt for miles (kilometers) away, left rubble scattered in the area and damaged nearby homes.

The Houston Fire Department said one person was taken to a hospital because of the blast.

The explosion shook other buildings about 4:30 a.m., with reports on Twitter of a boom felt across the city. A fire burned following the explosion smoke was seen hanging over the area.

The explosion appeared to be centered on an industrial building and some nearby homes were damaged.

Houston police tweeted that they were responding and officers were blocking off streets in the area.

As the fire burned, a firefighter asked a KTRK-TV reporter to move away because of potential hazards.