First Published: 2012-08-14

 

UN warns of 'imminent' attack on Somali Shebab bastion

 

Top UN humanitarian aid official warns of impending assault on southern Somali port of Kismayo, stronghold of Shebab insurgents.

 

Middle East Online

Long-awaited assault

NAIROBI - The United Nations warned Tuesday of an impending assault on the southern Somali port of Kismayo, the largest remaining stronghold of the country's Al-Qaeda linked Shebab insurgents.

"Fighting for control of the town appears imminent," said Mark Bowden, the top UN humanitarian aid official for the war-torn nation, noting reports of recent naval artillery bombardment as well as air strikes.

African Union troops, Ethiopian forces and various Somali militia forces have wrested a string of towns from the hardline Shebab, with the capture of Kismayo -- a crucial revenue source for the fighters -- seen as a key target.

Last week Shebab officials and residents said three civilians were killed by missile strikes on the port, reportedly by a naval barrage from an unidentified ship.

Several foreign navies operate anti-piracy patrols off the coast of the Horn of Africa nation, including European, US, Russian and Chinese forces.

Neighbouring Kenya has smaller vessels operating offshore from Kisamayo, supporting its ground troops, who invaded southern Somalia last year, before joining the nearly 17,000-strong AU force.

"I am deeply concerned by recent reports of civilian casualties in Kismayo caused by naval gunfire and airstrikes," Bowden said.

"I reiterate my call for all parties to the conflict to make every effort to minimise the impact of conflict on civilians, and to allow full humanitarian access to all people in need," Bowden added in a statement.

The reports of the long-awaited assault come as the corruption-riddled government wraps up eight years of infighting, with a UN-backed selection process for new leaders due to be completed by an August 20 deadline.

Three Ugandan army helicopters en route to Somalia to support the AU force crashed in Kenya on Sunday leaving at least two soldiers dead.

The deployment would have greatly aided forces ahead of any assault on Kismayo.

 

Huthi forces crumble in face of Saudi-led air campaign

Saudi Arabia puts security forces on alert over possible attacks

Lebanon receives first French weapons to bolster army

Mogherini: No more excuses on migrants

Qatar to float football fans during 2022 World Cup

Iran to neighbours: Nuclear deal could open door to regional cooperation

Lebanon ex-minister admits transporting explosives from Syria

Italy considers 'targeted interventions' against people smugglers in Libya

Latest developments in Middle East remind Washington of Egypt’s key role

Egypt confirms death sentences against 22 Morsi supporters

Tunisia President plans visit to White House next month

France urges peace deal to restore order in Libya

US condemns IS 'brutal murder' against Christians in Libya

At least six killed in bomb attack on UN bus in Somalia

Yemen rebel leader vows resistance against Saudi-led ‘aggression’

Crisis of unemployment: Over 30% of Arab youth jobless

Arab army chiefs to discuss dream of joint military force

Libya peace talks 'very close' to final accord

Large wave of displacement as violence rages on in Anbar

Khamenei urges Iran military to increase ' defensive preparedness'

‘Islamic State’ claims executions of Ethiopia Christians in Libya

Egypt sentences 11 football fans to death in retrial after 2012 riot

Thousands of Yemen troops side with President Hadi

Tunisia prevents departure of more than 12,000 would-be jihadists

Unidentified gunman opens fire on pro-Kurdish party office in Turkey

Iraq PM's spokesman resigns over pro-Saddam song

Israel pledges to transfer frozen taxes to Palestinian Authority

'Differences' emerge in Libya peace talks

Saudi Arabia vows to cover UN aid appeal for Yemen

Iraqi forces kill Hussein deputy in Salahuddin province

Iraq massacre site turns into memorial

Israeli coalition talks approaching deadline

Turkish PM condemns EU resolution on Armenian genocide

Tehran calls for immediate Yemen peace talks

Assad accuses Turkey of torpedoing UN Aleppo truce plan

New round of Libya rival talks in Morocco

EU urged to label Israeli West bank products

General Dempsey: Military option on Iran 'intact'

UN chief calls for immediate Yemen ceasefire

Abadi to Iran: We welcome your help as long as you respect Iraq sovereignty

Anger in Indonesia as Saudi Arabia executes second woman

France jihadist attacks fuel unprecedented rise in Islamophobia

Turkey mine chief: ‘I am not a murderer’

France sees progress in Rafale jet negotiations with UAE

Lebanese TV contempt trial opens at slain Hariri tribunal