Tuesday, June 04, 2013
Al-Shabab Islamic extremists in Somalia are routinely
killing civilians in attacks on soft targets and have regained some
territory in areas where a security vacuum emerged despite efforts by
the new federal government to consolidate peace, the U.N. chief said in a
report circulated Monday.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that, eight months after forming a
government, Somalia was on the path to stability but "al-Shabab's
presence continues to create insecurity," in the troubled Horn of Africa
"Targeted killings and attacks were routinely reported," Ban said,
and "incidents involving improvised explosive devices rose in 2013 in
comparison with 2012."
Somalia had not had a functioning central government since 1991, when
warlords overthrew a longtime dictator and turned on each other,
plunging the impoverished nation into chaos. But since African Union
forces ousted al-Shabab fighters from Mogadishu in August 2011, a
relative peace has returned to the war-battered city, creating a new
sense of hope and opportunity.
Last year, a new interim constitution was approved, a new parliament
was seated, a new president was elected, and a new government and
Cabinet started work, replacing a weak and largely ineffective
transitional government. Ban said the government continues to commit
itself to building new institutions and advancing toward the
establishment of regional administrations.
In the deadliest attack so far this year, Ban said over 30 people
died when al-Shabab used multiple gunmen and bombs against a courthouse
in Mogadishu on April 14. He added that on the same day, a likely
suicide bomber's vehicle hit a Turkish aid agency convoy.
On March 17, al-Shabab quickly retook the town of Xuddur in the
Bakool region following the withdrawal of Ethiopian and Somali forces,
killing at least one civilian and arresting several others, Ban said.
"The seizure of Xuddur marked the insurgents' first territorial gain
in several months and demonstrated the challenge of maintaining control
over recovered areas," he said.
Ban's report also cited abuses by undisciplined elements of the
Somali National Security Forces and human rights violations including
attempts to repress freedom of expression.
In the first quarter of 2013, he said, 552 violations against
children were verified — a decline from the 1,288 cases reported during
the same period in 2012 — including 37 killings, 63 maimings, 205
abductions, 219 recruitments and 19 acts of sexual abuse. Al-Shabab
committed 63 per cent of the violations and the Somali security forces
27 per cent, Ban said.