Egypt, Somalia discuss Sudan, Red Sea security

                            <p>By Rabie Abu Zamil</p>  <p>CAIRO (AA) – The Egyptian and Somali foreign ministers met in Cairo on Thursday to discuss recent political developments in Sudan and Red Sea security.</p>  <p>According to an Egyptian Foreign Ministry statement, Egypt’s top diplomat, Sameh Shoukry, met with Somali counterpart Ahmed Awad, who is currently visiting the Egyptian capital.</p>  <p>“Both sides exchanged their points of view, especially on recent developments in Sudan and the Horn of Africa and on Red Sea security,” the statement read.</p>  <p>The meeting also reportedly tackled the fight against terrorism and peacekeeping operations in Somalia.</p>  <p>Last week, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was ousted by the army after months of popular protests against his 30-year rule.</p>    <p>A military council will now run the country’s affairs for a two-year “transitional period” during which presidential elections will eventually be held. </p>  <p><br></p>  <p>*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat</p> 

Over 137,000 displaced in Somalia in 2019

                By Andrew Wasike</p>  <p> </p>  <p>NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) - Over 137,000 Somalia citizens have been forced to flee their homes in the first quarter of 2019, an international humanitarian agency said on Thursday.</p>    <p>“Over 137,000 people fled their homes in the first quarter of 2019, according to the UNHCR led Protection Returns Monitoring Network. The number of people displaced has increased month by month, with 51,000 fleeing in March alone,” the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said in a statement.</p>    <p>According to the statement overall 2.6 million people have been displaced.</p>    <p>“We are seeing a tragic trend this year, with more and more people displaced by drought and conflict in Somalia. Seeking aid to survive, families flee to urban areas, erecting makeshift shelters wherever they can,” said Kennedy Mabonga, regional program director for NRC.</p>    <p>Those mainly displaced by drought are from Somaliland, Puntland, Mudug and Galgaduud regions, while those displaced by conflict are mainly from Middle and Lower Shabelle regions.</p>    <p>“Conflict and airstrikes ha forced thousands to flee in fear. Drought has hurt farmers and pastoralists, causing migration to cities. Meanwhile, forced evictions in urban areas are rising,” Mabonga added.</p>    <p>Other factors contributing to displacement include floods, insecurity and lack of livelihoods.</p>    <p>The 2019 UN humanitarian aid appeal for Somalia is asking for $1.08 billion for humanitarian programs, but only 13 percent of the appeal is funded to date.

Death penalties decrease by 31% in 2018: Amnesty

By Emin Ileri

ISTANBUL (AA) – Death penalties all over the world decreased by 31% in 2018, compared to 2017, according to the Amnesty International on Wednesday.

“Amnesty International recorded at least 690 executions in 20 countries in 2018, a decrease of 31% compared to 2017 (at least 993),” it said on its website, adding that it was the “lowest number” recorded over the past decade.

“This reflected a significant reduction in some of the world’s lead executing countries, such as Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Somalia,” the group said in its 2018 report on death penalty.

It also said there is a decline in the number of countries carrying out executions, with the number of the cases reduced to one third.

It added that the statistics included publicly known death penalty practices, and China was not included in the figures, as it keeps the executions a secret.

The group noted that the number fell by a “staggering” 50% in Iran following a change to its anti-narcotics laws.

Other countries where the practice decreased included Pakistan and Somalia, while death penalties increased in Belarus, Japan, Singapore, South Sudan and the U.S.

“Thailand carried out its first execution since 2009, while Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena declared he would resume executions after more than 40 years, posting an advert seeking executioners in February 2019,” it said.

Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said on the report that “the dramatic global fall” in the practices proved that many countries, including the most unlikely ones, were starting to realize that death penalty is not the answer.

He went on to say: “Despite regressive steps from some, the number of executions carried out by several of the worst perpetrators has fallen significantly.

“This is a hopeful indication that it’s only a matter of time before this cruel punishment is consigned to history, where it belongs.”

Naidoo also noted that some small number of states were “shamefully determined to buck the trend.”

“To all the countries that still resort to the death penalty, I challenge you to act boldly and put a stop to this abhorrent punishment now,” he urged.

*Writing by Sena Guler

Bomb blast kills two in Somalia’s capital

            By Mohammed Dhaysane <br>

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA) – At least two people were killed and more than seven injured late Thursday when a car bomb exploded near the gate of the national police academy in Somalia's capital, said officials.

The blast occurred near General Kahiye Police Academy in Mogadishu, police officer Mohamed Bulle told Anadolu Agency by phone.

“A car bomb blast targeted a security checkpoint near General Kahiye Police Academy. We can confirm that two civilians, including a woman, were killed and seven others were wounded,” Bulle said.

The wounded were rushed to hospitals for treatment, he added.

The academy is a highly protected compound located in Mogadishu’s Hamar-Jajab neighborhood.

The Al-Qaeda affiliated group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.

The attack comes hours after the Somali government announced long-awaited military operations against al-Shabaab in the Lower Shabelle region about 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of the capital.

“Preparations are underway for the Somali army’s major operation in the country, with most parts of terrorist stronghold territories being brought back under the control of the government. All eyes are now on the Shabelle region after a long-awaited military operation against the terrorists,” the country’s information ministry said on Twitter.

Turkey strongly condemns terror attack in Somalia

By Ali Murat Alhas

ANKARA (AA) – Turkish Foreign Ministry on Friday strongly condemned a terror attack in Somalia's capital Mogadishu that killed at least 11 people.

"We have received the news with deep sorrow that the terrorist attack perpetrated in Mogadishu, resulted in loss of many lives and left several others wounded," the ministry said in a statement.

At least 11 people were killed and 16 others wounded in a car bombing in Mogadishu on Thursday, according to officials.

"We strongly condemn this heinous attack, wish Allah’s mercy upon those who lost their lives, a speedy recovery to the wounded and extend our condolences to the brotherly people and Government of Somalia," the statement said.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the deadly blast in Mogadishu.

Car bomb blast strikes Somalia capital, 11 dead

             By Mohammed Dhaysane</p>    <p>MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA) - At least 11 people were killed, 16 others wounded in a car bomb blast in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Thursday, officials said.</p>    <p>Mohamed Bulle, a police officer, told Anadolu Agency over the phone that the attack targeted a busy restaurant on the Maka al-Mukarama road in Mogadishu.</p>    <p>“A huge car bomb blast exploded in front of the Filsan Restaurant near Dabka junction at the Maka al-Mukarama road, killing at least 11 people” Bulle said.</p>    <p>On Twitter, Aamin Ambulance Service said rescue teams are deployed on the scene.</p>    <p>“16 injured, 11 people were also dead,” it reported.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the deadly blast in Mogadishu.

Somalia: Terrorist bombs, gunfire kill at least 10

By Mohammed Dhaysane

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA) – At least 10 people, including soldiers, civilians, and a deputy minister, were killed when a car bomb followed by gunfire targeted government buildings in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Saturday, officials said.

Mohamed Bulle, a police officer, told Anadolu Agency over the phone that the double car bomb blast targeted the Labor Ministry and Public Works and Housing Ministry buildings.

“After the blasts, gunmen stormed the building,” he added.

Five of the terrorist attackers were among the dead, and the wounded were rushed to hospital, he said.

Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre also confirmed the attack, saying: “I expressed my condolences to the families of the victims of today's cowardly terrorist attacks in Mogadishu, including Deputy Minister for Labour and Social Affairs Saqar Ibrahim Abdalla, who was killed in the attack”.

Somali-based al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.

Separately, a roadside blast outside Mogadishu killed four government soldiers on Saturday. Another two blasts wounded three civilians, according to police sources.

Turkish, Somali foreign ministers meet in Istanbul

              By Andac Hongur</p>    <p>ISTANBUL (AA) - Turkey and Somalia on Friday inked a protocol on land exchange for diplomatic representation. </p>    <p>Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with his Somali counterpart Ahmed Isse Awad, who visited Istanbul to attend an emergency meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation on the fight against hate and intolerance towards Muslims in New Zealand.</p>    <p>After the meeting, the two sides signed the protocol on land exchange for diplomatic representation.</p>    <p>Turkey has been the biggest supporter of Somalia for years and has its biggest embassy in Africa in Mogadishu.</p>    <p>*Writing by Gozde Bayar

Landmine blasts kill 5, injure more than 40 in Somalia

                                      By Mohammed Dhaysane</p>    <p>MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA) - At least five people were killed and more than 40 others wounded on Wednesday when landmines went off at a busy livestock market in the Somalia’s southwestern administrative region of Bay, an official said.</p>    <p>“Al-Shabaab terrorist group had targeted innocent civilians in Gof-gadud district’s livestock market with 4 landmine explosions on Wednesday and 5 people were killed, more than 40 others wounded”, said Nuradin Yusuf, spokesman for the Southwest State in Baidoa city, the capital of Bay region. </p>    <p>&quot;Our administration has sent ambulances to the scene and the wounded people were being transported to hospitals in Baidoa for treatment,&quot; Yusuf told Anadolu Agency.</p>    <p>Gof-gadud Burey is a small livestock business district, located some 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Baidoa city.</p>    <p>Somali-based insurgent group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack and said it had killed more than seven soldiers, a claim rejected by the spokesman for the Southwest State.

Somali army kills 8 al-Shabaab militants

            By Mohammed Dhaysane </p>  <p>MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA) - Somali special forces killed eight al-Shabaab militants overnight in the country’s Lower Shabelle region, state media said Tuesday.</p>  <p> “Somali security forces conducted an overnight operation in Daru Salam village in Lower Shabelle and killed eight members of the Al-Shabaab terrorist group,” the Somali National News Agency reported.</p>  <p>Adow Mohamed, a Somali National Army captain in Lower Shabelle, confirmed the operation to Anadolu Agency by phone.</p>  <p>“Our special forces alongside our international partners conducted an operation against al-Shabaab in Daru Salam in the Lower Shabelle region after we received intelligence and killed eight al-Shabaab fighters,” Mohamed said. </p>  <p>Meanwhile, al-Shabaab claimed it had killed one U.S. serviceman and wounded two others.</p>  <p>U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), which is targeting al-Shabaab in Somalia, have not commented on the incident so far.