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In Sunny Mogadishu!

saward

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Somalia: Al Shabaab Gunmen attack parliament building

24 May 24, 2014 - 3:44:46 AM

MOGADISHU, Somalia May 24, 2013 (Garowe Online)
-Gunmen believed to be Al Qaeda linked Al Shabaab fighters have launched a day light assault on Federal parliament building in Mogadishu on Saturday according to officials.
An explosive-laden car firstly exploded in front of Isbahaysiga Mosque near the parliament compound, followed by gun battle that triggered between Somali government soldiers who were standing guard at the building where MPs were debating an agenda focusing on public fund management and the assailants.

Witnesses have confirmed to GO correspondent that fighters in military fatigues fired live ammunition at the entrance to the parliament hall: "Plumes of black smoke could be seen over the scene of the attack, nearby civilians managed to escape while security forces have begun to engage in firefight with the uniformed attackers," an eyewitness said.

State-run station, Radio Mogadishu said, the security forces killed four Al Shabaab gunmen in the resistance.

As has been the case over the last three years, Al Shabaab militants target military and soft structures with suicide bombings and military style ambushes. The militant group previously vowed revenge on overwhelming defeat after allied forces dislodged Al Qaeda inspired fighters from a string of strategic towns in central and southern Somalia.

GAROWE ONLINE


Heavily armed and makeshift – inside Britain’s newest embassy in Somalia.

May 22, 2014

Mogadishu, Somalia – inside a small compound within the heavily guarded barriers of Mogadishu International Airport, in a country which has seen over two decades of civil war, lies Britain’s newest embassy.

We are the first EU state member to have reopened our embassy in Mogadishu, evidence of our commitment to working with the federal government of Somalia to rebuild the country. Stability, democracy and prosperity are vital for the future of the Somali people but also for wider international security, including here in the UK. Radicalisation and extremism abroad can so easily find its way onto Britain’s streets.

I visited at the end of April with Mark Lowcock, the permanent secretary of the Department for International Development (DFID). Being in Mogadishu gave me a sense of hope; a lot of progress has been made over the past couple of years.
African Union peacekeepers have recovered territory from the Al Shabaab militias. I was even able to visit the port of Kismayo which Al Shabaab controlled until 2012. The economy is starting to revive and the president has promised a new federal political plan for reform by 2016. In Somalia, co-operation between the regions will be the key to success.
The ambassador’s suite: everyone in the compound lives in 8m by 2m reinforced containers.Helping the government of Somalia drive forward this agenda is a remarkable team of British civil servants from the Foreign Office, DFiD, the ministry of defence and other departments. Their work is tough and dangerous. They live, work and socialise within the same small compound with few recreational facilities, surrounded by armed guards. Everyone – including the ambassador – lives in 8m by 2m reinforced containers.

Despite the progress being made in Mogadishu, moving around is risky and requires careful planning. Getting out of the airport to do the business of diplomacy, building networks and supporting daily life in the country poses unique challenges: body armour, vigilance and meticulous security arrangements with armed protection officers are all required. There have been several major security incidents in Mogadishu alone in the past month.

In such a tough environment you might expect our staff to become weary, pessimistic or disheartened. Instead I found them enthused and highly motivated, deeply committed and making the best of what they have. They’ve even created a small garden and a makeshift gym inside the compound.

They team works closely with the highest levels of the Somali government, including president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Many of the Somali officials they work with grew up and were educated in the UK. Having left the Somalia at the height of the troubles, they have now returned to help rebuild the country. This is a real cause of hope: it means our staff are able to build close relationships and effective partnerships with people in politics, administration, business and civil society.

In the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, we call this kind of work ‘expeditionary diplomacy’ – people from different parts of Whitehall taking risks and putting up with hardship, making a difference in other countries, which also reduces dangers in the UK. I came away from Mogadishu with deep admiration for the staff under the leadership of ambassador Neil Wigan. Their dedication and sacrifices exemplify what we want in the modern civil service.

Simon Fraser is permanent secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
 
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