Friday, April 7, 2017

Somalia’s President Declares War on Shabab Militants

(NYTimes) MOGADISHU, Somalia — The newly elected president of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, declared war on the Shabab militant group on Thursday and offered amnesty to fighters, whom he referred to as “brainwashed youth,” if they surrendered within 60 days.

“The country is in a state of war,” said Mr. Mohamed, widely known by his nickname, Farmajo.

“We want to attack them and liberate the areas they are in,” Mr. Mohamed said, referring to the Shabab militants


His announcement came just over a week after President Trump signed a directive that declared parts of Somalia an “area of active hostilities.” The order temporarily relaxes some rules for preventing civilian casualties when the American military carries out counterterrorism strikes in Somalia.

Somalia has been marred by severe draughts, terrorism, corruption and a new spike in piracy.

In the face of those challenges, the president’s cabinet on Thursday replaced the chief commanders of the army, the police and national intelligence, as well as the mayor of Mogadishu, the capital. The shake-up was greeted with skepticism among Mogadishu residents.

The reshuffling of security officials looks like business as usual, said Hafzina Omar, a 22-year-old Mogadishu resident. “If Somali forces work honestly, Al Shabab attacks will be stopped,” she said.

At least six people were killed on Wednesday after a suicide car bomber targeted a cafe frequented by government officials near the Internal Security Ministry and the Ministry of Youth.