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Islamists Threaten To Shut Down Mogadishu Airport

Issue 340
Front Page
News Headlines
Pirates Threaten Starving Somalis' Last Lifeline
Islamic Courts Reject Kismayo Administration
Local and Regional Affairs
Somaliland Representatives To Take Part In Workshop For African Parliaments
Somaliland Seeking Security Ties With Western Nations
Pirates Seize 2 More Vessels Near Somalia
French Commandos Free Hostages From Puntland Pirates
CPJ To Honor Five International Journalists
Islamists Threaten To Shut Down Mogadishu Airport
Industry Loses Patience Over Pirates
JBS Swift Fires 100 Wildcat Striking Muslim Meatpackers In Colorado
US Should Join France And Somaliland In Combating Piracy
Special Reports
Country's Technology growth status

International News

Kidnapped Alta. Journalist Appears Healthy In Video
Italy 's Prodi To Head Panel On Africa Peacekeeping
Milk off shelves as China 's safety scandal grows
Features & Commentry
Shelterbox Offers Hope When Disaster Strikes
Gender Inequality Shackles African Economies
Global Maternal Mortality Crisis Unnoticed
Somalis Under Attack With No Place To Hide
Djibouti : Building Brand Bin Laden
Somalia 's Struggle For Self-Determination


The Gulf Of Aden A Deathtrap For Somali Asylum Seekers
Fall of Kismayo, TGS in Addis Ababa , Crumbling ARS and Puntland: Somalia under Spotlight
Three Little Mice With A Heavenly Cheesecake
Are Women In Somaliland For The Kitchen And Household Chores Only?


MOGADISHU , Sept 14, 2008 Somali Islamists have threatened to stop planes using Mogadishu 's main airport as part of an escalating insurgency rocking the Horn of Africa nation.

The hardline Islamist group Al Shabaab, which is fighting the Somali government and its Ethiopian military backers, said it would stop planes from landing after midnight on Tuesday.

"We banned all planes from Mogadishu after confirming that American spies, the African Union, Ethiopians and the infidel government troops use the airport," said a statement in Somali on www.kataaib.net, one of several sites used by the militants.

The sea-front airport in south Mogadishu is used for government and commercial flights. African Union (AU) peacekeepers and some visiting U.N. missions also fly there.

Aid groups tend to use other landing strips.

"We warn the Somali businessmen: Ethiopia gets revenue from Mogadishu airport. (AU mission) Amisom and Ethiopians also transport their injured and dead soldiers from this airport," said the statement that appeared at the weekend.

The African Union has 2,200 peacekeepers in Somalia , mainly based at the airport. They have done little to stem violence and the pan-African body wants to hand over to the United Nations.

The airport has suffered a string of attacks since Islamists launched an Iraq-style insurgency in 2007. Several times, shells have hit about the time President Abdillahi Yusuf has taken off.


There was no immediate response to Al Shabaab from the government. But an AU spokesman said such threats were not new.

"The airport is not for Amisom but for the Somali people," added AU spokesman Barigye Ba-Hoku. "It would hinder first of all the Somalis who need medicine, who need to leave when sick. So this threat means they don't care for the Somali people."

A local airline official, who asked not to be named, said he had received a warning from Al Shabaab.

The threat reflects the growing confidence of one of the main players in the Somali war. The group recently led an Islamist takeover of the southern port of Kismayu , giving it a strategic sea access and proximity to the Kenyan border.

Al Shabaab appears to have stepped up activities, and widened its sphere of targets, since being put on Washington 's terrorist list earlier this year.

In the latest attack, suspected Islamists laid a roadside bomb and fired on a peacekeepers' convoy inspecting for mines in Mogadishu on Sunday, AU staff said. One Ugandan soldier died and two others were wounded in the melee.

There was also fighting between Islamists and AU troops at the Kilometer 4 area of Mogadishu on Sunday, locals said.

"Two of my kids are missing and what I hear is only the constant crash of mortars," resident Seinab Farah said.

Somalia 's civil war has killed more than 8,000 civilians since last year -- and an unknown number of combatants.

One million people are living as internal refugees. (Writing by Andrew Cawthorne)

Source: Reuters


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