By Keffyalew Gebremedhin –The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
On 28 February, the leaders of Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda adopted a declaration, which among others, condemned “the recent attacks perpetuated by Al Shaabab in Mogadishu, Leggo, Janaale, and El Adde and, the continued asymmetrical warfare by this terrorist group against the Somalia government. The declaration acknowledges “the growing threats posed by Al Shabaab.”
In that regard, it “Stresses the need for effective AMISOM Command and Control in order to achieve synergy of the Mission’s efforts against Al Shaabab and therefore directs AMISOM contingents to fully support the Force Commander in his exercise of effective and accountable command of all Military units and equipment assigned to the Mission, under the overall leadership of the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and AMISOM Head of Mission.”
The latest attack by Al-Shabab, according to The Guardian, has claimed the lives of “More than a dozen people” in Mogadishu, after al-Shabaab gunmen forced their way into a hotel and exchanged fire with guards before government security forces ended the attack.
The civilian death from the Friday night attack in the Somali capital had risen to 14 by Saturday.
A suicide bomber rammed his car into the SYL hotel’s entrance and blew it up, allowing gunmen to fight their way past hotel guards at the first security barrier, Capt Mohamed Hussein told The Guardian.
Four gunmen and the suicide bomber were also killed, he said, adding that the attackers did not get past the last security checkpoint. Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Hussein said 12 civilians died at the scene, while Dr Mohamed Moalim, of the Medina hospital, told Agence France-Presse that two others died overnight of their injuries. Sixteen people were wounded.
The SYL hotel, which is located across from the presidential palace, is frequented by government officials and business executives. It was the target of a suicide bombing in January last year, which killed five people.
Abdirahman Ahmed, a witness who was inside the hotel at the time, told AFP he saw several people injured, including three security guards.
“The gunmen who tried to storm the hotel were killed outside, they could not manage to enter,” he said. “The blast was so huge and windows broken everywhere but the gunfire was outside. Everyone was safe inside, but terrified.”
The security minister, Abdirizak Omar Mohamed, said the bomb was the biggest blast to hit the city in recent years, more powerful than an attack last July when a suicide bomber rammed a truck of explosives into the outer wall of the Jazeera Palace hotel, killing 17 people.
Despite being pushed out of Somalia’s major cities and towns, al-Shabaab continues to launch deadly guerrilla attacks across the horn of Africa. It has carried out attacks on three of the five countries contributing troops to the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia.
The group, which is linked to al-Qaida, has carried out deadly attacks in Kenya as well, including one in 2013 on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, which killed 67 people.
Meanwhile, according to the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry, the Consultative Ministerial Meeting of IGAD on Regional Security Cooperation Framework took place in Djibouti on February 27, 2016.
It is reported that Somalia’s Foreign Minister Abdusalam Hadiyeh Omer appreciated the tremendous effort that has been exerted by the countries of the region in the realization of peace and stability in Somalia.
In his remark, TPLF Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom and Chairman of the IGAD Council of foreign Ministers recalled the recommendations by the IGAD Council of Ministers for the establishment of the Regional Security Cooperation Framework (RSCF) between Somalia and its neighbors. He added that the region was facing inter-state and intra-state conflicts and confronted by man-made and natural security threats.
Dr. Tedros expressed his hope that the proposed Regional Security Framework would help tackle some of the major challenges in the region.
Is the TPLF foreign minister imposing on other nations of the region Ethiopia’s problem with Eritrea as a regional problem? For all we can see, outside the Ethiopia-Eritrea tension there is no inter-state conflict in the Horn!
Source: The Guardian and Ethiopian Foreign Ministry