The State Department has put a multimillion-dollar bounty on the heads of two Americans who the United States claims belong to an al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, CNN has learned.
Posters and matchbooks in Somali and English emblazoned with the names and pictures of Omar Shafik Hammami and Jehad Serwan Mostafa tout rewards up to $5 million each for information leading to their arrest or conviction. Both men are on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists List.
At least 10 people were killed and 15 wounded in a suicide bombing of a bus outside the National Theatre in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Monday, the prime minister's office said.
A suicide bomber drove a car with explosives into the bus, according to the office of Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon.
Somalia's president intends to offer partial amnesty to boys involved with pirate groups, a move designed to curb attacks on shipping off the Horn of Africa, his office says.
"We have been negotiating with pirates indirectly through the elders to see if we can organize a partial amnesty for the young boys lured in this criminal activity," Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said in a statement released by his office Thursday.
A suicide bomber detonated explosives outside the Mogadishu office of Somalian Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon on Tuesday, his spokesman said.
The spokesman, Garad Salad, could not immediately say whether the explosion resulted in casualties.
But eyewitnesses said a security guard was killed while trying to fight off the bomber. The blast shattered windows of nearby buildings and left two others wounded, witnesses said.
For the first time in more than two decades, the United States has granted official recognition to the Somali government in Mogadishu.
"There is still a long way to go and many challenges to confront, but we have seen a new foundation for that better future being laid," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday in a joint news conference with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who stood beaming at her side.
Clinton praised Somalia's actions in reducing the level of extremism since she took office in January 2009, when "(militant Islamist group) Al Shabaab controlled most of Mogadishu and south and central Somalia, and looked like it would gain more territory."
Fifty-five people have drowned or are missing after a boat capsized off the coast of Somalia on Tuesday evening, the U.N. Refugee Agency said Thursday in a statement. Those on board were Ethiopians and Somalis. Twenty-three bodies have been recovered so far.
A grenade flew into a Kenyan church today, turning a prayer service into carnage.
The attack in Garissa, a city in northeastern Kenya, killed at least one person and wounded at least 13 others. At least two are in critical condition. It was the latest in a slew of similar attacks in the country.
Police knocked on the door in the middle of the night, giving whoever was inside a chance to open it. But the anti-terrorism squad had come prepared for a raid.
When the militant suspect inside refused to let them in, the officers broke down the door - and were met by a grenade flying straight at them.
The blast injured three officers and killed a suspected criminal who had led them to the home in Mombasa, Kenya's second-largest city and a popular tourist destination. Police had arrested the suspect earlier, and got him to take them to what he said was a home containing an illegal weapons cache, according to regional police chief Aggrey Adoli.
As the grenade exploded, police began shooting into the doorway, killing the suspected militant who had hurled the explosive at them.
As he fell, he dropped a second grenade he'd been holding. That blast injured five policemen - one of whom who later died due to his injuries.
Inside the house, police recovered two more grenades, a pistol, and 15 rounds of ammunition, Adoli said.
The suspects - both the one who took police to the home and the one who pitched the grenade at them - had no identity cards, Adoli said. "We cannot rule out that they are enemies from Al-Shabaab who were planning an attack following the fall of Kismayo” in neighboring Somalia, he added.
The al Qaeda-linked militant group Al-Shabaab is trying to overthrow the Somali government, and has also been blamed for violence in Kenya.
Six African nations are in the top 10 of an annual failed-state index, including Somalia, which heads the list for the fifth straight year after continued struggles with lawlessness and piracy.
Somalia tops the 2012 Failed States Index because of “widespread lawlessness, ineffective government, terrorism, insurgency, crime, and well-publicized pirate attacks against foreign vessels,” the list’s compiler, Washington-based nonprofit Fund for Peace, said on its website Monday.
The group’s eighth annual list, which ranks instability risks of 177 nations based on 12 social, economic and political indicators, was published Monday by Foreign Policy magazine. Nations ranking high on the list aren’t necessarily failed states, but are facing enormous pressure stemming from factors such as uneven development, economic decline and human-rights issues, according to Fund for Peace.
The top 10 nations on the 2012 Failed States Index are:
European Union naval forces on Tuesday struck Somali pirate targets on the coast of the country in the first raids by the European force on the Somali mainland.
“We believe this action by the EU Naval Force will further increase the pressure on, and disrupt pirates’ efforts to get out to sea to attack merchant shipping and dhows," Rear Adm. Duncan Potts, operational commander of the force, said in a statement.
Several pirate attack skiffs, the small boats pirates use to attack merchant vessels in the open ocean, were destroyed in the raid, said Timo Lange, media officer at the naval force's headquarters in England.
No Somalis were injured in the raid, which was conducted entirely by air, the force's statement said.
"The local Somali people and fishermen – many of whom have suffered so much because of piracy in the region, can be reassured that our focus was on known pirate supplies and will remain so in the future," Potts said in the statement.
On March 23, the Council of the European Union said the naval force would be permitted to attack pirate installations on shore.
The force currently has nine warships and five maritime patrol aircraft operating off Somalia under Operation ATALANTA, which began in December 2008.
In April, the International Maritime Bureau reported that pirate attacks off Somalia had decreased dramatically during the first quarter of the year as compared to a year earlier.
Pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia have decreased dramatically this year, but the number of incidents off Africa's west coast is increasing, and piracy is becoming more violent there, the International Maritime Bureau reported Monday.
There were 102 incidents of piracy and armed robbery during the first quarter of 2012, according to the agency, part of the International Chamber of Commerce.
Forty-three of those were attributed to Somali pirates, a decrease from 97 in the first quarter of 2011. Nine vessels were hijacked in the area, a decrease from 16 in the period a year earlier. Pirates took 144 crew members hostage off Somalia during the quarter, according to the report.
The bureau credited international navies, which have staged both reactive and pre-emptive strikes against pirates in the region, for the decrease in piracy off Somalia. It hoped for continued progress.
A bomb blast rocked Somalia's newly reopened national theater in the capital city Wednesday, killing two top sports officials.
Witnesses reported other casualties, but it was unclear how many.
Said Mohamed Mugambe, head of the Somali football federation, and Somali Olympic committee chief Adan Hagi Yabarow Wish were killed in the attack, a hospital official told CNN.
The bomb went off during a celebration for the first anniversary of Somali national television in Mogadishu, according to witnesses. Screaming people fled the theater and ambulance sirens filled the air.
The African Union Mission in Somalia said the device had been detonated by a female suicide bomber who blended in with the crowd gathered for the occasion.
A 45-year-old British man has been arrested in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, for suspected ties to al Qaeda, a spokesman for Somalia's president said Tuesday.
The man is not of Somali origin, said Abdirahman Omar Osman, also a senior adviser to President Sharif Ahmed.
Osman said the suspect had come to Somalia without a visa and upon questioning said he wanted to help Islam. Authorities have seized his computer.
A spokesman at the UK Foreign Office said it was aware of the matter and was looking into it.
Al-Shabaab, a militant Islamist group allied to al Qaeda, controls much of southern Somalia and is active around Mogadishu.
It has waged an insurgency against the weak Transitional Federal Government since 2007.
Somali pirates freed a British hostage Wednesday, nearly seven months after she was taken captive in a raid at a Kenyan beach resort in which her husband was killed.
Judith Tebbutt told British broadcaster ITN that she was "very relieved" and was looking forward to seeing her son, who, she said, had helped secure her release.
"I don't know how he did it," she said.
A U.S. citizen aid worker freed in Somalia last week after three months in captivity was headed to the United States on Monday via a commercial flight from Italy, a senior U.S. official said.
Jessica Buchanan, 32, was set to depart from Sigonella, Italy, the official said. It was unclear what time the flight was leaving.
U.S. military forces rescued Buchanan and Poul Thisted, 60, on Wednesday. The two were traveling in Somalia as workers for the Danish Refugee Council at the time of their kidnappings.
U.S. special forces swooped into Somalia in a pair of helicopters in a daring overnight raid to rescue two kidnapped aid workers - an American and a Dane - and killed several gunmen, American officials said Wednesday.
The hostages, Jessica Buchanan and Poul Thisted, were seized in October after they visited humanitarian projects in northern Somalia, said the Danish Refugee Council, the agency for which they worked.
Both are unharmed, the aid group said.
They were taken to a regional medical facility and receiving care from U.S. military doctors and nurses, Pentagon spokesman George Little said.
Two aid workers working to provide emergency medical relief in the Somalia capital of Mogadishu have been killed in a shooting at a Medecins Sans Frontieres compound, the agency said in a statement.
The workers were shot Thursday at a compound operated by MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders, the non-profit aid agency said.
"The exact circumstances of the shooting are not yet clear. MSF's immediate priority is to take care of those most affected by this tragedy, in particular the families and colleagues of the victims," the statement said.
Two foreign aid workers kidnapped last week in Somalia are alive and well, a Danish aid group said Sunday.
Jessica Buchanan, 32, and Poul Hagen Thisted, 60, were abducted by gunmen Tuesday after visiting humanitarian projects in the northern Galkayo area, the Danish Refugee Council said.
"I have been told that contact was established today, and I am pleased to announce that both Poul and Jessica are doing well given the circumstances," said Ann Mary Olsen, head of the council's international department.
Somalia's president has spoken out against Kenya's military incursion into his country, saying his nation's African neighbor has overstepped its bounds by pursuing Islamic militants far from its own borders.
Somali President Sharif Ahmed said Monday that the strike degrades the trust built up between the two countries over the past few decades, and called Kenya's actions "not good."
His comments contradict a joint Somali-Kenyan communique issued three days after the Kenyan incursion, declaring Al-Shabaab "a common enemy to both countries" and pledging to work together to stabilize Somalia and cooperate in security and military operations.
Kenyan forces entered Somalia on October 15 in a strike on Al-Shabaab, a Somali militant group that Kenya blames for the recent kidnappings of foreigners from northern Kenya.
By David McKenzie, CNN
Kenyan troops are pursuing suspected Islamic militants from al-Shabaab across the border into Somalia, Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua told CNN Sunday.
The move marks a dramatic shift in security tactics for the east African powerhouse, which is evoking the United Nations charter allowing military action in self-defense against its largely lawless neighbor.
"If you are attacked by an enemy, you have the pursue that enemy through hot pursuit and to try hit wherever that enemy is," said Yusuf Haji, in a news conference aired on CNN affiliate NTV.
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