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Five regional states cut ties with Somalia central government

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Leaders of five Somali regional states on Saturday resolved to suspend relations with the central government, citing a lack of political and security progress in the Horn of Africa nation.

In a joint statement issued at the end of a two-day meeting in southern port city of Kismayo, the leaders from Jubaland, Puntland, Southwest, Galmudug and Hirshabelle regions also accused the central government of interfering with regional issues, failure to implement security architecture and not fulfilling political agreements.

"From the perspective of the key elements of co-operation between the two parties, the Council suspended cooperation between the central government and the states," the leaders said in the statement.

The regional presidents criticized the central government for failing in the fight against al-Shabab, saying there was no proper coordination between the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops and national security forces.

They also cited lack of tangible progress in the constitutional making process, saying Mogadishu has done little to ensure that the country holds a one-person-one-vote elections in 2020.

The presidents’ meeting under the Council of Inter-State Cooperation (CIC) added that there lacks a mechanism for sharing national resources between the regional states and the government.

The leaders said they will only resume normal ties with Mogadishu until all the agreements reached in the past meetings held in the capital and Baidoa are implemented.

The regional presidents: Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas (Puntland), Ahmed Duale Gelle (Galmudug), Mohamed Abdi Ware (Hirshabelle), Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden (South West State) and Sheikh Ahmed Madobe (Jubaland) also decried lack of sharing of foreign aid.

There was no immediate response from the central government.

Analysts say the resolutions are the latest political setback by the central government which is trying to partner with the international community to stabilize the Horn of Africa nation.


Four Somali soldiers killed in al-Shabab attack
at a checkpoint in southwestern region of Bay

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- At least four Somali soldiers were killed and four others injured Saturday in an al-Shabab attack at a checkpoint in southwestern region of Bay in Somalia, officials said.

A military commander who requested not to be identified told Xinhua the attack happened in the early hours of Saturday in Makuda village on the outskirts of Baidoa in Bay region.

"They (al-Shabab) attacked our forces and we responded in a heavy gun battle. We lost four soldiers during the fighting while four others were injured but we inflicted heavy casualties on them," the military official said.

Residents said there were huge blasts in early morning followed by gun fire in the area.

"We could hear heavy exchange of fire and blasts coming from the side of Makuda," Guled Abdullahi, a resident, said.

"People said al-Shabab had attacked a check point manned by government forces.

The militant group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack saying it killed five soldiers and seized weapons.

The group still controls large swathes of territory in the Bay and Bakol regions.

Meanwhile, unidentified warplanes conducted airstrikes in southern town of Jilib on Saturday in the latest strikes targeting senior al-Shabab commanders in the Horn of Africa nation.

Local residents reported hearing heavy assaults targeting members of the terror group near Jilib town, in Middle Jubba region.

Harassed journalists in Somalia continue to face difficulties and even death

MOGADISGHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Journalists in Somalia continue to face difficulties including death despite progress in defense of human rights, the UN has said.

In a report released on Thursday evening, the United Nations Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) said challenges remain for journalists and media workers, citing killings, harassment, arbitrary arrest and illegal detention.

"Despite some efforts and progress in the legislative field, regrettably violations and abuses concerning the right to freedom of expression continued to be recorded," the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Somalia, Michael Keating, said at the report’s launch in the Somali capital.

According to the report, eight journalists and media workers were killed and 32 others injured between August 2016 and July 31.

In the same period, 94 journalists and media workers were arbitrarily arrested on charges related to the exercise of freedom of expression.

The report notes the number of journalists killed during the period under review had decreased by 27 percent compared to the January 2014 and August 2016.

The report calls on Somali authorities to move fast in implementing measures to protect journalists and other media workers and prosecute alleged perpetrators of violations against the media workers and political actors.

It also recommends the establishment of the Somali Federal Human Rights Commission to champion protection of human and civil rights.


al-Shabaab earns US $10 million by smuggling Somalia charcoal



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