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American airstrikes mistakenly kill 22 soldiers in central Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- At least 22 Somalia soldiers were mistakenly killed and 16 others injured by suspected U.S. airstrikes early Wednesday in the outskirt of Galkayo town in central Somalia.

Osman Isse Nor, Security Minister for regional Galmudug State, told reporters that airstrike only targeted their forces, saying no Al-Shabaab militants were killed during the bombardment, an incident which sparked street demonstrations against U.S.forces.

"The attack occurred at our army base, 30 kilometers east of this town and killed 22 soldiers, wounded 16 others and destroyed armed vehicles. The U.S drones carried out the attack, but we believe that the Puntland security forces gave them (United States) wrong information," Nor said.

The minister said that the attack happened at 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday and called on Washington to give response to the latest deadly incident which saw many residents held street protests against the killings.

Dozens of angry residents chanted anti-American slogans, burning the U.S. flags in protests against the killings and called on the Galmudug regional state to respond to what they termed aggression.

The protesters accused semi-autonomous Puntland State of giving false information to American Special Forces to kill the soldiers who were in their military base and not the militants who have been fighting to topple the Western-backed government.

There were no official comments from either the U.S. government or Puntland State on the airstrikes in the region.

The U.S. maintains a small force unit of about 50 troops in Somalia mainly to advise and assist Somalia and AMISOM troops battling Al-Shabaab militants.

Though they are not in Somalia to conduct combat operations, when called in, their helicopters, drones and manned aircraft are available for quick reaction airstrikes.


Somalia releases new dates for elections

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Somalia’s electoral body has postponed the nation’s electoral process by a month.

The Federal Indirect Electoral Implementation Team (FIEIT) said the presidential election will now take place on Nov. 30 while parliamentary elections will be held from Oct. 23 to Nov. 10 for both the Lower and Upper houses.

"The election of speakers of both houses of parliament will be held on Nov. 23," FIEIT chairman Omar Abdulle said in a statement released in Mogadishu on Monday evening.

Briefly, Abdulle noted the process was facing financial, security and political challenges among other several causes.

"Although substantial progress has been achieved on the electoral process, it seems some of the tasks cannot be completed based on the planned schedule, due to several impediments including political challenges, security, management of the electoral budget.

"The Election Dispute Resolution Mechanism has not yet commenced work.

"Some traditional elders haven’t yet completed submission of a list of delegates," he said.

Failure by elders to submit lists of delegates who will elect members of the Lower House was also cited as a major obstacle by the electoral body.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud whose term expired Sept. 10 in line with the constitution was given a 50-day extension until Oct. 30 but will now have another full month in office.

According to UN Mission in Somalia, a three-day meeting between FIEIT members and chairpersons of the State Indirect Electoral Implementation Teams also agreed that the Election Dispute Resolution Mechanism should become operational by Oct. 8, in order to address complaints of irregularities related to the electoral process.

Presidents of the existing and emerging federal member states will be asked to submit the names of candidates for the Upper house of the federal parliament by Oct. 5.

Ugandan military says action to be taken to rescue captured soldier in Somalia

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Ugandan military on Wednesday said appropriate action will be taken to ensure the release of one of its soldiers captured by Somali militants in Somalia capital Mogadishu last year.

Military spokesperson, Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda told Xinhua by telephone that Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) high command is concerned about the life of the soldier only identified as Private Masasa who is under Al Shabaab captivity in the Horn of African country.

"We are still studying the video and are concerned about the life of the soldier. Al Shabaab have an obligation to save his life.

"We are doing all it takes to rescue him," said Ankunda.

Al Shabaab militants on Monday released a video of Masasa whom they captured after overrunning UPDF base in Janaale, about 90km south-west of the capital Mogadishu in the Sept. 1, 2015 deadly attack.

At least 18 Ugandan peacekeepers serving under African Union Mission in Somalia were killed in the dawn attack.

In the video, Masasa is pleading to President Yoweri Museveni and opposition leaders in the country to talk to his captors and have him released from captivity.

"I am pleading with you, President [Museveni], to help so that I am released from the hands of Al-Shabaab," said Masasa in an emotional video the militants posted on social media.

This is the second video where Masasa is pleading for mercy and release from captivity.

"This is my 12th month in captivity. It has been one year but I’m in good health and I haven’t been killed," said Masasa.

Ankunda said all will be done for the safety and life of the soldier.

"We will take action as appropriate," he said.

After the attack, President Museveni ordered the suspension and the arrest of Col. Bosco Mutambi, the commander of the Battle Group 16 and three of his officers.

Mutambi who was demoted to the lower rank of Lt. Colonel was charged in army court martial for failure to execute his duties and briefing his seniors about a possible attack.

The East African country accounts for about a third of the roughly 22,000-strong AMISOM force.


UN Security Council voices regret over Somalia’s delayed election process

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council on Wednesday expressed regret over repeated delays of this year’s parliamentary and presidential elections in Somalia, calling on all the Somali parties to follow the revised schedule and reach agreement on the remaining political challenges soon.

"The members of the Security Council expressed regret at the announcement by the Federal Indirect Election Implementation Team (FIEIT) on Sept. 26, 2016 that the timetable for the 2016 electoral process required a further extension," the 15-nation UN body said in a statement.

The statement was issued here late Wednesday after the council was briefed by the special representative of the UN secretary-general for Somalia, Michael Keating, and the special representative of the African Union Chairperson on Somalia, Francisco Madeira, on the situation in Somalia.

"The members of the Security Council underlined that holding a peaceful, transparent and inclusive electoral process in 2016 will mark a historic step forward for all Somalis, and will be fundamental for the country’s continued progress towards democracy and stability," the statement said.

The council members called on all parties to "adhere to the implementation plan put in place by the FIEIT, and to demonstrate the political will to ensure the revised timetable will be met," the statement said.

The latest postponement decision was the second by the Somali electoral body since August, in which both polls were slated for under the original time table.

The FIEIT said the parliamentary elections will be held from Oct. 23 to Nov. 10 for both the Lower and Upper houses, while the presidential election will take place on Nov. 30.

Somalia misses poll deadline amid confusion on way forward

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Somalia’s electoral team failed to meet the Sept. 24 deadline for the start of the elections of members of the Lower House, raising concerns the delay could affect the election of the president slated for Oct. 30.

By Saturday, the day polling stations were set to open in the regional capitals, the Federal Indirect Elections Implementing Team, FIEIT and its state level equivalent were still held up in a meeting to iron out contentious issues.

The polls body said in a statement on Sept. 21 that elders tasked with choosing the delegates who will elect members of the Lower House were yet to submit their lists to the electoral body even as it emerged clans were not willing to reserve seats to women in line with the poll procedures.

The polls body also said it was facing financial, political and security challenges which could delay the electoral process for the Horn of Africa nation.

The international community committed to meet 60 percent of the budget while Somalia would clear the rest through Federal Government purse and candidates fees.

Besides the technical aspects of the elections, security remains a key challenge.

The militant group Al-Shabaab announced last week it would disrupt the polls, raising concerns this could scare some voters away.

Analysts have expressed fears that a delay in parliamentary elections will automatically influence that of the president which is scheduled for Oct. 30.

The Presidency announced in a decree Sept. 4 that President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud would have limited powers after Sept. 10 when his constitutionally mandated term ran out.

The decree stipulated the extended stay in office must come to a close in November 6. But the delay of Parliamentary elections is likely to affect the October 30 Presidential poll.

The election of members of the Upper House which ought to be completed by Sept. 25 also stands postponed.

The timetable which set out the process to choose a new federal Parliament between Sept. 24 and Oct. 10 and president by Oct. 30 was endorsed by Somalia’s National Leadership Forum.

The electoral body announced late last month that a list of 135 traditional elders was being finalized for selecting 14,025 members of Electoral Colleges, who will in turn elect the 275 members of the lower house of the next federal parliament.

United Nations calls for arrest of Somalia journalist killers

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The United Nations top envoy in Somalia on Wednesday called for speedy investigations into the killing of a radio journalist in Somalia.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia, Michael Keating, strongly condemned the murder of Abdiaziz Mohamed Ali on Tuesday, who hosted a morning news program for the privately-run Radio Shabelle, in the Yaqshid district of the capital Mogadishu by two unknown gunmen.

"The perpetrators have not yet been identified. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) calls on Somalia authorities to spare no effort in bringing the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice," Keating said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

The motive for the Tuesday evening killing was not immediately apparent, and no one claimed responsibility for the attack.

A highly regarded reporter and producer, Ali became the second Somali journalist to meet a violent death this year.

In June, Sagal Salad Osman, who worked for state-run Radio Mogadishu, was fatally shot as she left her university campus.

A total of 31 Somali journalists have been murdered since August 2012, according to the UNSOM Human Rights and Protection Group.

"Ali was an inquisitive, experienced and resourceful journalist who regularly covered press conferences offered by the international community in Mogadishu," said Keating.

"His death represents a great loss to the country’s journalistic community, and we extend our thoughts and condolences to Ali’s friends and family," he added.

Earlier this month, UNSOM and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report on the right to freedom of expression that described Somalia as "a dangerous operating environment" that has especially affected journalists and media professionals.

Two Al-Shabaab terrorists killed in Southern Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- African Union peacekeeping mission (AMSIOM) backed by Somali forces killed two Al-Shabaab terrorists on Monday in Somalia’s southern city of Kimaiyo.

AMISOM said the allied forces conducted a security disruption and clearing operation in Caba village outside the port city of Kismayo, where they killed the militants behind terror attacks in the region.

"The forces killed two Al-Shabaab terrorists. Somali and AMISOM troops are working closely to destroy Al-Shabaab and bring peace and security to Somalia," it said in a brief statement.

The allied forces have intensified their security operations in the Horn of Africa nation, which was scheduled to host its indirect elections on last Saturday but postponed the exercise until further notice.

The operation comes after ten people, mostly militants, were on Sunday killed and several others wounded in a deadly fighting between forces loyal to Somalia’s South-West State and Al-Shabaab militants in southern Somalia.




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