United States Africa Command Public Affairs Office 23 February 2012

USAFRICOM - related news stories

Good morning. Please see today's news review for February 23, 2012. This new format is best viewed in HTML. Features include icons and links to provide more options to the reader. Clicking on the text icon takes you directly to the full text of the story; the paperclip icon links to the article's original source; and the envelope icon allows you to email the article. Of interest in today's report: -Al-Shabaab Militants Pull Out From Key Towns in South. -Uganda: Country to Lead 5,000 AU Forces Against Kony. -Gunshots rock Nigeria's Kano city. -Kenyan airforce strikes Somali town. U.S. Africa Command Public Affairs Please send questions or comments to: publicaffairs@usafricom.mil 421-2687 (+49-711-729-2687)
Headline Date Outlet AllAfrica.com

Uganda: Country to Lead 5,000 AU Forces 02/22/2012 Against Kony

Uganda will command the proposed 5,000 African Union forces that will fight the Lord's Resistance Army in the Central African Republic and DR-Congo.

Al-Shabab Militants Pull Out From Key Towns in South

02/22/2012

AllAfrica.com

Bardale, Feb 22, 2012 (Shabelle Media Network/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX News Network) -- Reports from Alshabab stronghold towns in southern Somalia say that the militants have on Wednesday vacated from two strategic towns amid allied forces advan...

Government, Al-Shabab Militants Battle in 02/22/2012 Bardale Town

AllAfrica.com

Heavy fighting and shells between pro-government soldiers and Al-Qaeda linked group of Al-shabab resumes in southern Somalia town,a day after the rebels withdrew from it, an official says Wednesday.

Gunshots rock Nigeria's Kano city

02/22/2012

News24

Kano - Explosions and gunfire rocked a suburb in northern Nigeria's largest city of Kano early Wednesday where Islamists staged deadly attacks in January, an AFP reporter and residents said.

Kenyan airforce strikes Somali town Kenya: 2,500 KDF Soldiers to Join

02/22/2012 02/22/2012

Daily Monitor AllAfrica.com

Kenyan troops intensified attacks on al-Shabaab in Somalia with air strikes on a key rebel settlement at the weekend.

Amisom
The United Nations Security Council is on Wednesday expected to formally approve the integration of 2,500 Kenyan troops to the African Union forces battling Al-Shabaab militia.

Kenyan teens lured to fight for Somali terrorists

02/22/2012

CNN.com

Pumwani, Kenya (CNN) -- Asha Mohamed sits in her cramped room in Pumwani slum clutching a tiny photo of her son, Harun. He's dressed in a blue-striped tie framed by a crisp white T-shirt -- a typical 15-year-old Kenyan high school student.

Nation Rejects U.S. Conditions for Debt Relief, Slams Washington's Policies

02/22/2012

AllAfrica.com

The Sudanese government on Monday rejected the conditions attached by the United States to cancelling all of Khartoum's $2.4 billion debt owed to it.

Uganda: Evictions Leave Former IDPs in 02/22/2012 Limbo

AllAfrica.com

Apar -- Amid violent confrontations, some 6,000 people in northern Uganda who spent years displaced as the army pursued the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) have been forced to leave their newfound homes because they lie in what has become a wildlife res...

Somalia: UN to Boost Peacekeepers

02/22/2012

AllAfrica.com

New York -- The UN Security Council will on Wednesday vote to increase the African peacekeeping force in Somalia to up to 17 000 troops, diplomats said.

Somalia: Al-Shabaab Wants Girls to Join 02/22/2012 Warfront Against Govt

AllAfrica.com

Sheikh Fu'ad Mohamed Khalaf Shongole, the chief of awareness raising of al-Shabaab, the radical Islamist group opposing the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, has insisted that unmarried girls should join the Jihad (holy war) against the pro-gover...

Somalia: child soldiers on the rise

02/22/2012

CNN.com

Children as young as 10 years old increasingly face horrific abuse in war-torn Somalia as the Islamist militant group AlShabaab has targeted them to replenish its diminishing ranks of fighters, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Tuesday.

Somalia: Government, Al-Shabab Militants Battle in Bardale Town

02/22/2012

AllAfrica.com

Bardale -- Heavy fighting and shells between pro-government soldiers and Al-Qaeda linked group of Al-shabab resumes in southern Somalia town,a day after the rebels withdrew from it, an official says Wednesday.

Pentagon: No enemy involvement in Djibouti crash

02/21/2012

The Baltimore Sun Online

WASHINGTON -- -- There was no enemy involvement in the air crash that killed an airman from Upper Marlboro in Africa over the weekend, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Service Members from Mali Take Part in Aerial Resupply and Recovery Exercise

02/22/2012

US Army Africa Public Affairs

U. S. service members joined troops from six partner nations with the purpose of sharing their knowledge of aerial resupply and recovery of as part of exercise Atlas Accord in Mali, February 2012.

News Headline: Uganda: Country to Lead 5,000 AU Forces Against Kony | News Date: 02/22/2012 Outlet Full Name: AllAfrica.com News Text: Uganda will command the proposed 5,000 African Union forces that will fight the Lord's Resistance Army in the Central African Republic and DR-Congo. Col. Dick Olum, the commander of UPDF military police, will lead the Force which will comprise of UPDF, South Sudan, Central African Republic and DR-Congo forces. An internal magazine, published by the UN regional office for Central African Republic, said the Force

will be based at the current UPDF headquarters in Nzara, South Sudan. Uganda now commands two AU military campaigns out of three in Africa. Nigeria commands the Darfur mission while AU mission in Somalia is commanded by Uganda. During an AU meeting in Addis Abaaba, Ethiopia, in 2010, AU agreed to the proposal by the four countries to form a joint force. The UPDF spokesperson, Col. Felix Kulayigye, said they are waiting for the AU to approve Col. Olum's appointment and designing the time table of when the Force would be deployed. The formation of the continental Force, which is supported by the AU, UN and American government, is in final stages. A team composed of UN and AU officials has held meetings with key security officers in the four countries are yet to agree on the operational model. Four countries affected by the LRA agreed to form a Force against the rebels. The magazines quotes Gen. Jeje Odong, the State Minister for Defence, on January 5, welcoming the involvement of the international community to fight LRA rebels who have displaced and killed thousands in the four countries. "Our troops are already present in every site where LRA operates. In due course, we could possibly make their re-organisation based on the stakes and needs," he said. The AU-UN team led by the AU special envoy on the LRA issues, Mr Francisco Madeira and the Special Representative of the UN secretary-general and the head of UN office for Central Africa.
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News Headline: Al-Shabab Militants Pull Out From Key Towns in South | News Date: 02/22/2012 Outlet Full Name: AllAfrica.com News Text: Bardale, Feb 22, 2012 (Shabelle Media Network/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX News Network) -- Reports from Al-shabab stronghold towns in southern Somalia say that the militants have on Wednesday vacated from two strategic towns amid allied forces advance towards them. Residents in Bardale and Baidoa towns in Bay region, which are just 250-Km from south of Mogadishu say hundreds of Ethiopian tanks supported by Somali government soldiers, rolled into the region yesterday which forces the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab fighters to pull out from Bardale and Baidoa towns on Wednesday. Reports said, the situation is tense as both Al-shabab and TFG soldiers making military exercises to intensify their defense positions. Al-Shabab rebels left their bases overnight but it was not clear if they had left from the districts entirely. Government officials said troops took over Bardale town of Somali from Al Shabaab, adding they are planning to wrestle the whole region in the coming days. Locals began Mass displacement from their houses in regions of southern Somalia in fear of fierce battle between the militants and the coalition forces. TFG and eithopian troops are waging a wider campaign to crush Al-Shabaab rebels who control swathes of central and southern Somalia. No comments were immediately from Al-shabab fighters about TFG military claim

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News Headline: Government, Al-Shabab Militants Battle in Bardale Town | News Date: 02/22/2012 Outlet Full Name: AllAfrica.com News Text: Heavy fighting and shells between pro-government soldiers and Al-Qaeda linked group of Al-shabab resumes in southern Somalia town,a day after the rebels withdrew from it, an official says Wednesday. The battle which lasted for hours broke out on the outskirts of Bardale town in Bay region, a town which is just 250 Km away south of Somalia capital, Mogadishu after Al-shabab fighters attacked on bases belonging to the TFG and Ethiopian forces in the town. It was not immediately clear the exact casualties sustained both sides from the combat as the fighting still continues villages around the town of Bardale in Bay region where on Tuesday allied army from Somali government and Ethiopian with tanks rolled into the town after fierce battle. TFG officials in the battlefields claimed to have inflicted on militants heavy losses during the fighting that took place on Wednesday in Bardale town of bay region in southern Somalia. Islamist group of Al Shabaab have so far neither made any comments about the combat. Copyright © 2012 Shabelle Media Network. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
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News Headline: Gunshots rock Nigeria's Kano city | News Date: 02/22/2012 Outlet Full Name: News24 News Text: Kano - Explosions and gunfire rocked a suburb in northern Nigeria's largest city of Kano early Wednesday where Islamists staged deadly attacks in January, an AFP reporter and residents said. An AFP correspondent heard at least six huge explosions followed by gunshots, just before Muslim dawn prayers, which continued for around an hour. The causes were still unclear but some residents suggested security forces had raided a suspected hideout of members of the Islamist sect Boko Haram in Tinshama area of the city. Tinshama also neighbours the low income suburb of Badawa, which also houses both Christians and Muslims. "The whole area has been cordoned off by armed soldiers and policemen. All we hear is that a house suspected to be a Boko Haram hideout was raided by security agents," said Badawa resident Bala Haruna. Boko Haram staged co-ordinated gun and bomb assaults in Kano, killing at least 185 people in what was the group's deadliest ever strike. There have since been several smaller attacks in the city.
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News Headline: Kenyan airforce strikes Somali town |

News Date: 02/22/2012 Outlet Full Name: Daily Monitor News Text: Kenyan troops intensified attacks on al-Shabaab in Somalia with air strikes on a key rebel settlement at the weekend. They carried out air strikes in Xhwayo Town, 30kms from Belles Qoockani Town on their way to Afmadow. The commander of Kenya's forces in central Somalia, Lt Col Jeff Nyagah, said al-Shabaab insurgents had concentrated most of their logistical material and war equipment in southern Somalia. ³We have not estimated the damages caused by the attack,´ Lt Col Nyagah said. Kenyan forces went into Somalia last year in an attempt to crush the al-Shabaab militia group that was accused of abducting tourists and civil servants besides grenade attacks in the country. On Sunday, Lt Col Nyagah said they had noted an increase in population in the towns that had been liberated by the Kenya Defence Forces. He said in the recently liberated Hosingow, the population had increased from 150 to 500 people. ³More people had abandoned their homes due to the drought and the fighting that marked the first phase of the operation, but they are now returning,´ he said. Care-Somalia and the World Food Programme have moved to the towns to provide relief food. The Fying Doctors have also moved to the area. ³The families are being given food coupons of $100 (KShs8,300) to buy the supplies not provided for by the food donors,´ he said.
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News Headline: Kenya: 2,500 KDF Soldiers to Join Amisom | News Date: 02/22/2012 Outlet Full Name: AllAfrica.com News Text: The United Nations Security Council is on Wednesday expected to formally approve the integration of 2,500 Kenyan troops to the African Union forces battling Al-Shabaab militia. This comes as the world's focus shifts to London on Thursday, where lasting peace and stability to the war-ravaged Somalia will be sought. Al-Shabaab recently announced it had joined world terror gang, Al-Qaeda. This integration would save Kenya billions of shillings, with donor nations taking over the cost of maintaining Kenyan forces in southern Somalia. Kenya's UN ambassador Macharia Kamau says he expects the council to approve the plan despite misgivings about its cost by France, one of the council's five permanent members. Full burden "Kenya has been carrying the full burden of the international community's responsibility," Mr Kamau told the Nation last week. On Tuesday, President Kibaki led a delegation including Internal Security minister George Saitoti and

Defence's Yusuf Haji to the conference hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron. Also expected at the talks are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. The UN appropriated $304 million (Sh24 billion) to support Amisom in the fiscal year ending this June. The US and EU cover most of that cost. The UN also oversees an Amisom Trust Fund to which other donors had contributed $39 million between 2009 and 2011.
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News Headline: Kenyan teens lured to fight for Somali terrorists | News Date: 02/22/2012 Outlet Full Name: CNN.com News Text: Pumwani, Kenya (CNN) -- Asha Mohamed sits in her cramped room in Pumwani slum clutching a tiny photo of her son, Harun. He's dressed in a blue-striped tie framed by a crisp white Tshirt -- a typical 15-year-old Kenyan high school student. But in September he vanished. "Harun woke up very early and asked his sister "what time is it?" says Asha. He kept on asking her again and again. Then, at four in the morning, he left the house." In her heart, Asha knew where he had gone, but the text messages later confirmed it. Harun left his school and home in Kenya to fight for al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab. "It started when he was 14. He came to me many times and said "mom, I am going to Somalia to fight Jihad." I thought he was just playing." For years, Al Shabaab has targeted Somalis abroad to fight in their campaign to overthrown the weak transitional government. Now Kenyans, with no ethnic link to Somalia, are joining the Jihad. According to a recent U.N. report, there are "extensive Kenyan networks linked to Al-Shabaab, which not only recruit and raise funds for the organization, but also conduct orientation and training events." Many of those events centered on Pumwani, a largely Muslim slum in Nairobi. Here, residents and religious leaders speak of a charismatic young Kenyan Sheikh that arrived from Mombasa. They say he bravely stood up to corruption, promoted the Quran, and generously handed out scholarships to young men. And he stoked their passion for Al Shabaab. The man is Sheikh Ahmad Iman Ali -- now the leader of Al Shabaab's Kenya cell. He is remembered fondly at the Maratib Islamic Center in Pumwani. "He was fearless and, at the same time, kind," says Abdullah Kilume, the administrator of the center. "The majority think he was a good man, he did a lot of good, they saw what he did." Sheikh Iman would conduct lengthy sermons at the center's mosque, says the U.N. report. The sermons were called 'Jihad Training sessions' and many of them are posted on the internet. According to the U.N's investigations, training sessions included classroom based lectures about 'Islamic Struggles' in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen. Many of the children wore "Jihad is our Religion" T-shirts.

Kilume remembers Sheikh Iman's teachings well. He said that he appealed to the Kenyan youth of Pumwani. "It reached the youth. I personally know that some of them wanted to go to Somalia." But while parents in this area supported the Sheikh's war on graft and welcomed his financial help in this grindingly poor place, they felt differently when their children started to vanish. "I went to that mosque and caused havoc, but they didn't care," says Asha. "Somalia, that is not his war, I don't even know why they are fighting, so why should he leave here and go fight in something he doesn't even understand." But increasingly, it seems, these Kenyan youth do see it as their fight too. Six of Harun's school friends who attended the center also vanished, she says. Local authorities wouldn't comment specifically on the case, but they acknowledged that a problem exists. The youth, who fled face the prospect of fighting Kenyan soldiers, many of them Muslim, who are engaged in an incursion deep into Somalia to stamp out Al Shabaab. Kilumi, the Muslim Center administrator, says he can accept it if these Kenyan recruits to Al Shaabab end up killing Kenyan soldiers. "Like every other Muslim, I would like the Sharia law to be implemented and that is what they want to do in that part of Somalia," he says. "Muslims first, Kenyans second." Sheikh Iman's recruiting and fundraising drive has apparently been so successful that he has been rapidly promoted through the ranks of Al Shabaab. In 2009 he moved his base to Somalia, where it's believed that he commands a force of between 300 and 500 Kenyan fighters. In January a video of the sheikh was posted on jihadi websites. It's not known when the video was recorded. It shows him seated cross-legged in battle fatigues. Sheikh Iman called again for Kenya's youth to cross over the border to fight. And if they couldn¹t, he gave them a simple message. "Raise your sword against the enemy that is closest to you. Jihad should now be waged inside Kenya."
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News Headline: Nation Rejects U.S. Conditions for Debt Relief, Slams Washington's Policies | News Date: 02/22/2012 Outlet Full Name: AllAfrica.com News Text: The Sudanese government on Monday rejected the conditions attached by the United States to cancelling all of Khartoum's $2.4 billion debt owed to it. The debt relief proposal was submitted last week by US president Barack Obama to Congress as part of his 2013 budget. But for Sudan to take advantage of the offer it must follow through on all remaining items of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) particularly with regard to postsecession negotiations with South Sudan.

Khartoum must also satisfy US Congress requirements including upholding human rights and fighting terrorism. Haj Magid Siwar, the head of the political mobilization bureau at the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in Khartoum, said his government does not accept the US calling for allowing aid groups into rebel-held areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile in return for debt relief. He said that Washington has been dealing with Khartoum in a lot of "fooling" which led to the Sudanese government not trusting any of the promises put forward by successive US administrations on lifting economic sanctions and removing the country from the list of states that sponsor terrorism. Siwar downplayed visits by US officials to Khartoum including congressmen saying it is not new for US administrations "which disclaims all its political and ethical obligations". "If America is willing to improve relations with Sudan then we are more willing but we will not respond to lobby pressures and lobby groups" he said. Last week, the Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti said his country's relations with the US are not able to progress because of divide between the administration and lobby groups. Karti stressed that Obama has adopted a policy seeking normalisation with Sudan but pointed out that US advocacy and lobby groups which harbour enmity towards Khartoum are actively working to undermine the administration's approach.
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News Headline: Uganda: Evictions Leave Former IDPs in Limbo | News Date: 02/22/2012 Outlet Full Name: AllAfrica.com News Text: Apar ² Amid violent confrontations, some 6,000 people in northern Uganda who spent years displaced as the army pursued the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) have been forced to leave their newfound homes because they lie in what has become a wildlife reserve. "Where do you expect us to go? This was our ancestral village way back before displacement," Justin Okot, a local area leader, told IRIN in the village of Apar, in Amuru district. Another resident, Patrick Kobwola, said: "All I know is, this is my ancestral village, the LRA displaced us and I am back home. I am not leaving whatever the case." From 1996, almost the entire population of northern Uganda was obliged to move into what the authorities called "protected villages". With the LRA no longer active in the country, most people in camps over recent years have left to return home, a process frequently hampered by land disputes. In Apar, armed police and game rangers have been evicting the former IDPs since 15 February. Their encroachment on the game reserve has led to an increase in elephant poaching, according to Uganda's Wildlife Authority (UWA) conservation manager Tom Obong Okello. "We don't need people here," said Okello. UWA in 2005 signed a tripartite agreement with the local government of neighbouring Adjumani District and Lake Albert Safaris to promote tourism and sport hunting in the reserve. Apar straddles the districts of Amuru and Adjumani.

But affected communities say they were not consulted before the signing of the agreement as they were still in the protected villages. No prior notice to evict was issued, they added. "What is actually happening is intolerable; armed police and game rangers are combing areas in Apar Village ordering everyone out," Justin Okot, the local area council leader, told IRIN. "It's all chaos, guns being fired, security forces descending on whoever dares [to] resist," he added. Santo Ongom, a 58-year-old father of five, said: "People are being [loaded] on to a waiting UWA truck and ferried out of the place." On 15 February, violent protests over the evictions led to the deaths of at least three civilians; nine other people were injured and 25 more arrested and detained at Openjinji prison in Adjumani district. "Youths armed with bows and arrows attacked our men enforcing law and order in the area and in [the] crossfire they were shot," said Grace Turyagamunawe, assistant inspector of police in charge of the eviction. Many of the evictees are now back living in the squalid sites where they were forced to live during the war, often in the open. "Being here again brings back the memory of horrendous life in the IDP camp," Josephine Otto told IRIN in Pabbo sub-county, adding that her harvest had been destroyed in the evictions. The issue of encroachment on national park land is a challenge for returnees in northern Uganda, notes a 2009 report, Where Justice is a Dream, by the Adjumani District Local Government, the German Overseas Development Programme and the Refugee Law Project (RLP). For example, the Zoka Forest became a wildlife reserve in 2002 having previously been an area of controlled hunting, stated the report, adding that, "People who had formerly lived and hunted in the area were surprised to discover that they were no longer permitted to stay or hunt within the forest reserve, as this would be contrary to the law. "Some are living within the park land, while others pass through the reserve." Legal rights Quoting a UWA official, the report said a lack of clear park boundaries was a problem and recommended that population displacement, particularly resulting from genuine developmental and environmental preservation initiatives, take place within the law and not result in eviction. It further called for genuine consultation with those affected, adequate and reasonable notice prior to eviction as well as provision of legal remedies and where possible, legal aid for those who sought redress from the courts. Meanwhile, another eviction is looming in Lakang village in Amuru district where there are plans to set up a 40,000 hectare sugarcane plantation and sugar processing factory. The evictions are violating the rights of the war-affected communities, according to Denis Barnaba Otim, a project officer with the advisory consortium on conflict sensitivity at Makerere University's Refugee Law Project. "The eviction is interfering with the entire process of return and resettlement," said Otim. "People are being evicted in a crude way yet they can trace their origin in this place way back from 1911.

"There is physical evidence of mango trees, graves, that showed that people lived here before," he added.
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News Headline: Somalia: UN to Boost Peacekeepers | News Date: 02/22/2012 Outlet Full Name: AllAfrica.com News Text: New York ² The UN Security Council will on Wednesday vote to increase the African peacekeeping force in Somalia to up to 17 000 troops, diplomats said. A resolution to be passed by the 15-nation council will also seek a ban on trade in charcoal from Somalia which is used by Shebab militants to raise money and threatens an environmental crisis in the Horn of Africa state. The Security Council's vote will come one day before an international conference in London on efforts to ramp up support for Somalia's transitional government and to combat Shabaab and other militant groups. The African Union force in Somalia, Amisom, currently has a UN-mandated upper limit of 12 000 troops. The AU wants this increased to 17 731 troops and police to step up the battle against Shabaab, which was last year forced out of most of Mogadishu and has also lost ground in other areas. The council resolution, obtained by AFP, agrees to the increase and sets the African troops the task of moving into new areas of Somalia 'to take all necessary measures' with Somali security forces 'to reduce the threat posed by Shabaab and other armed opposition groups'. Amisom is made up of troops from Burundi, Uganda and Djibouti but is to take in Kenyan soldiers now fighting in Somalia. The Security Council will appeal to other African countries to send troops. Somalia's transitional administration has a mandate until August to set up a structure for a permanent government and parliament. But the weak administration has struggled to overcome divisions between rival groups to increase its authority. Another provisional political deal was signed by rival leaders at the weekend and the United Nations last month reopened its office in Mogadishu. Clear military strategy But western nations, which pay most of the cost of Amisom, believe that the opportunity to make decisive gains against Shabaab will close in August if a permanent government is not agreed. The Security Council resolution stresses that Somalia government and Amisom forces must move into south and central Somalia 'on the basis of clear military objectives integrated into a political strategy.' 'Amisom needs a clear military strategy to step up this campaign and there has to be hope that the government will work,' commented one Western diplomat of the new international focus on Somalia. The Security Council also orders the Somali government to take 'necessary measures to prevent the export of charcoal' and for all UN members to halt trade in charcoal from Somalia. The government already bans charcoal exports from areas it controls. But the trade is thriving in rebel

areas and has become a valuable source of revenue for Shabaab. Several ships each week are said to leave the Shabaab-controlled port of Kismayo. Most head to Gulf states. But charcoal burning has caused huge damage to the environment. Deforestation has badly hit livestock herding and increased the impact of devastating droughts.
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News Headline: Somalia: Al-Shabaab Wants Girls to Join Warfront Against Govt | News Date: 02/22/2012 Outlet Full Name: AllAfrica.com News Text: Sheikh Fu'ad Mohamed Khalaf Shongole, the chief of awareness raising of al-Shabaab, the radical Islamist group opposing the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, has insisted that unmarried girls should join the Jihad (holy war) against the pro-government forces. Addressing a congregation at the weekend at a mosque at Eelasha Biyaha, a large settlement south of Mogadishu where thousands of people who fled the wars in Mogadishu found refuge, Sheikh Shongole ordered parents to inspire the girls to fight for the Islamist movement. "At this stage of the jihad, fathers and mothers must send their unmarried girls to fight alongside the (male) militants," Sheikh Shongole said. He added that girls could form formidable fighting units in all the movement's brigades. According to information periodically released by the movement, the main brigades include hooded fighters, landmine planters, and character targeting operatives, suicide bombers and beheading executers. Al-Shabaab had always employed men, especially young boys, to fight for the movement. However, it has recently been encouraging people from across society, including community elders, to join the struggle. Sheikh Shongole's statement provoked anxiety among the girls and parents in areas controlled by alShabaab, the movement which early this month merged with al-Qaeda. The sheikh's oration contradicted an earlier statement by Sheikh Ali Mohamoud Raghe alias Sheikh Ali Dhere, the spokesperson of al-Shabaab. Reacting to a conference concluded by Somalia's political groups at Garowe Town, 1,000 kilometres northeast of Mogadishu, Sheikh Ali Dhere stated that the gathering was counterproductive for Somalis. The cleric underlined that the meeting outcomes (signed by Somali leaders from the TFG and regional authorities together with the international community) were particularly injurious to the society by giving women undeserved role in the decision making process. Without being specific, Sheikh Ali Dhere criticised the leaders for concluding that future parliament in Somalia is made up of 250 MPs with at least 50 women legislators in it. The Garowe outcome also endorsed a process of selecting 1,000 representatives for a constituent assembly to endorse the draft constitution for Somalia.

The cleric was annoyed by the the conclusion that the endorsed constituent assembly is required to accommodate at least 30 percent women representation and the rest from the general public.
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News Headline: Somalia: child soldiers on the rise | News Date: 02/22/2012 Outlet Full Name: CNN.com News Text: Children as young as 10 years old increasingly face horrific abuse in war-torn Somalia as the Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab has targeted them to replenish its diminishing ranks of fighters, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Tuesday. While the recruitment of child soldiers by the Somali insurgent group is not new, the report said the scale of child abductions over the past two years is like nothing documented in the past. Shocking patterns have also emerged of children serving as human shields on the battlefields, according to Human Rights Watch. "We're beginning to see more and more instances where children are essentially being used as cannon fodder," Tirana Hassan of Human Rights Watch told CNN. Al-Shabaab fighters abduct young girls and boys from their homes or schools, in some cases taking entire classes, the report said. Children can be sent out to recruit other children, according to the organization. One survivor told Human Rights Watch he was asked by a group of kids to play football at a nearby field. When he arrived, he and others were gathered up and sent to training camps, the survivor told Human Rights Watch. The camps are places where children live in fear, said Hassan, an emergencies researcher for the international human rights group. "They see injured and dead fighters, many of them children, coming back from the battlefield," Hassan added. Recruits are taught to use weapons and to throw hand grenades and are subjected to a myriad of abuses including rape, assault and forced marriages, according to Hassan. Dozens of recruits, mostly ages 14 to 17, are driven by truckloads to the front line, where they are told to jump out only to be mowed down by gunfire while Al-Shabaab fighters launch rockets from behind, according to Hassan. A 15-year-old boy recruited by Al-Shabaab from his school in Mogadishu in 2010 told Human Rights Watch that "out of all my classmates -- about 100 boys -- only two of us escaped, the rest were killed." "The children were cleaned off. The children all died and the bigger soldiers ran away," the youth told Human Rights Watch. Somalia's transitional government also was criticized by Human Rights Watch for not ending its own use of child soldiers. "Al-Shabaab's horrific abuses do not excuse Somalia's Transitional Federal Government," said Zama Coursen-Neff, the group's deputy children's rights director. "The TFG should live up to its

commitments to stop recruiting and using children as soldiers, and punish those who do." Gen. Abdulkadir Ali Diimi, the head of Somalia's National Army, said he was unable to comment on the report. The 104-page report, released two days ahead of a Somalia conference hosted by the British government, grimly details countless violations against children based on more than 160 interviews conducted over the last two years with Somali youngsters who escaped from Al-Shabaab forces, as well as parents and teachers who fled to Kenya. "For children of Somalia, nowhere is safe," Coursen-Neff said. On Thursday, senior representatives from more than 40 governments will converge on London in a diplomatic push to find political solutions to restore stability in Somalia.
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News Headline: Somalia: Government, Al-Shabab Militants Battle in Bardale Town | News Date: 02/22/2012 Outlet Full Name: AllAfrica.com News Text: Bardale ² Heavy fighting and shells between pro-government soldiers and Al-Qaeda linked group of Al-shabab resumes in southern Somalia town,a day after the rebels withdrew from it, an official says Wednesday. The battle which lasted for hours broke out on the outskirts of Bardale town in Bay region, a town which is just 250 Km away south of Somalia capital, Mogadishu after Al-shabab fighters attacked on bases belonging to the TFG and Ethiopian forces in the town. It was not immediately clear the exact casualties sustained both sides from the combat as the fighting still continues villages around the town of Bardale in Bay region where on Tuesday allied army from Somali government and Ethiopian with tanks rolled into the town after fierce battle. TFG officials in the battlefields claimed to have inflicted on militants heavy losses during the fighting that took place on Wednesday in Bardale town of bay region in southern Somalia. Islamist group of Al Shabaab have so far neither made any comments about the combat.
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News Headline: Pentagon: No enemy involvement in Djibouti crash | News Date: 02/21/2012 Outlet Full Name: The Baltimore Sun Online News Text: WASHINGTON ² ² There was no enemy involvement in the air crash that killed an airman from Upper Marlboro in Africa over the weekend, the Pentagon said Tuesday. Senior Airman Julian S. Scholten, 26, was one of four special operations airmen killed Saturday when their single-engine U-28 turboprop crashed six miles from Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport, according to the U.S. Africa Command. "This is obviously a tragic incident," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said Tuesday, according to the American Forces Press Service. "There is absolutely no indication of any kind of enemy involvement in the downing of the plane."

Little said the airmen had been conducting a surveillance and reconnaissance mission in support of the global war on terror. The airport in Djibouti City is near Camp Lemonnier, the main U.S. base for antiterror operations in the Horn of Africa. Scholten was assigned to the 25th Intelligence Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., according to the Pentagon. Also killed were Capt. Ryan P. Hall, 30, of Colorado Springs, assigned to the 319th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field; and Capt. Nicholas S. Whitlick, 29, of Newnan, Ga., and 1st Lt. Justin J. Wilkens, 26, of Bend, Ore., both assigned to the 34th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field. Officials held a transfer ceremony for their remains early Tuesday at the Dover Air Force Base military mortuary in Delaware. A safety board investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the incident, according to Africa Command. "We need to understand precisely what happened," Little said.
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News Headline: Service Members from Mali Take Part in Aerial Resupply and Recovery Exercise | News Date: 02/22/2012 Outlet Full Name: US Army Africa Public Affairs News Text: U. S. service members joined troops from six partner nations with the purpose of sharing their knowledge of aerial resupply and recovery of as part of exercise Atlas Accord in Mali, February 2012. Members of the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) conducted pathfinder training to locate suitable drop zones, cleared the area to ensure the safety of local residents, marked the drop zones for the aircraft and recovered supplies. "The training was really interesting," said Malian Army Sergeant Oumar Traore, as airborne infantryman. "The 19th SFG taught us to set-up the operational readiness platform, to send out reconnaissance patrols, and establish security at the drop zone. We've learned how to conduct these operations under any circumstances. This exercise also helps us work with troops from other nations," he said. U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Dane C. Eital, an operator with Co. C, 2nd Battalion, 19th SFG (Abn.) agreed. "The training has been going very well. We've been learning from them as much as they've been learning from us," said the Chico, California native. U.S. Army Captain Bob V. Luthor from Huntington, West Virginia, a team leader with Co. C, 2nd Bn., 19th SFG (Abn.) chimed in, "The participants were very attentive and we were able to show them our tactics and see theirs as well. It's been great to see troops from all these nations come together to get the 'mission' accomplished." There have been challenges, but the Malians were very resourceful, Luther continued. They removed a second set of pilot flight controls from one of the smaller aircraft to fit the supplies and personnel to drop them.

The focus of the exercise was to deliver supplies to people who may not have access to normal supply lines due to natural disasters or other difficult circumstances, Eital said. The pathfinder training during Atlas Accord 12 can potentially help future joint operations between partner nations to deliver humanitarian supplies safely to those in need.
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