One of al-Shabaab’s most-wanted leaders surrenders to Somali police
A leader with the Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab who had a $3m bounty on his head has surrendered in Somalia, a Somali intelligence official said on Saturday.
Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi surrendered to Somali police in the Gedo region, said the intelligence officer, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press.
Hersi may have surrendered because he fell out with those loyal to Ahmed Abdi Godane, al-Shabaab’s top leader who was killed in a US airstrike earlier this year, the officer said.
Hersi was one of seven top al-Shabaab officials whom the Obama administration offered a total $33m in rewards for information leading to their capture in 2012. It is not clear if the reward will be paid out for Hersi, because he surrendered.
EU votes to keep protecting aid to Somalia from pirates
Counter-piracy naval patrols to protect shipments of humanitarian aid for Somalia will continue for two years amid severe hunger in the Horn of Africa.
The European council voted last week to extend the EU naval force’s Operation Atalanta until December 2016, saying its main focus is to protect shipments from the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) that pass through pirate waters on the way to Somalia.
Somali pirates are known to operate in the Gulf of Aden and the western Indian Ocean. In 2011, incidents of piracy off Somalia’s coast reached an all-time high, with 176 attacks, according to the EU. But attacks dwindled to seven in 2013 and only two so far this year, although many incidents involving smaller pirate boats go unreported, EU data showed.
US air strike over Somalia kills al-Shabaab security chief, Pentagon says
An air strike by an unmanned US aircraft over Somalia this week killed Tahliil Abdishakur, the chief of the al-Shabaab militant group’s intelligence and security wing, the Pentagon confirmed on Wednesday.
The strike, which took place on Monday near Saakow was carried out by US forces working from “actionable intelligence,” the Defense Department said in a statement. The unmanned aircraft fired several Hellfire missiles at a vehicle carrying Tahliil, it said.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters on Tuesday that Abdishakur was killed in the attack along with another al-Shabaab militant, who was not identified. There were no civilian casualties in the attack, the official said.
The strike was the latest in a recent campaign against al-Shabaab. In September, a US drone strike killed the group’s main leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane.
On Saturday, Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi, an al-Shabaab leader with a $3m bounty on his head, surrendered, according to a Somali government source and local media.
Somalia sexual offences bill hailed as vital step towards lasting change
The first bill to define and address sexual offences in Somalia is expected to be presented to the cabinet before the end of this year, updating legislation that has been in place since 1930.
The bill will define rape as a crime against a person, rather than a crime against morality, as it characterised at present. It will criminalise gang rape and introduce legislation against child marriage, human trafficking, sexual harassment and offences committed against vulnerable groups such as internally displaced people.
The new law will also outline the role public officials and police should play in investigating and prosecuting cases, in addition to criminalising the obstruction of justice, protecting the identity of injured parties and witnesses, and – in a major shift for Somalia’s clan-based society – prohibiting the out-of-court settlement of sexual offences cases.
However, due to religious sensibilities, the bill does not address marital rape or domestic violence. The latter is widespread in Somalia.
“If you want to affect real change this is not the solution, but it is one part, a very important process,” said Antonia Mulvey, the executive director of Legal Action Worldwide (Law), a Nairobi-based NGO working with the Somali government to draft the bill.
“Without the legal framework in place we are not going to be able to make the other changes. People argue that we are unable to arrest, prosecute or convict because they don’t have the legal framework. This gives them the legal framework.”