By Harun Maruf
Wednesday October 2, 2019
The United States has reopened its embassy in Somalia. The previous one had been closed in January 1991 during the country's civil war.
The new embassy building is located on the grounds of Mogadishu's international airport.
“The re-establishment of Embassy Mogadishu is another step forward in the resumption of U.S.-Somali relations,” read a statement issued by the embassy.
U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto described the re-establishment as a “significant and a historic day that reflects Somalia’s progress in recent years." He said the embassy will "enhance cooperation, advance U.S. national strategic interests, and support our overall security, political, and economic development goals and objectives."
The U.S. had maintained a diplomatic mission in Mogadishu since December last year.
The announcement coincided with the conclusion of Somali Partnership Forum, a two-day meeting between Somali leaders and international community held in Mogadishu for the first time.
During the meeting, the U.S. Agency for International Development announced nearly $257 million in new humanitarian assistance to Somalia. The new humanitarian package brings U.S. total assistance to Somalia to just under a half-billion dollars this year.
Participants also discussed Somalia's scheduled 2021 elections. Representatives from the international community pressed the government to improve relations with its regions, adopt an electoral law by December, and complete a constitutional review by June 2020.
As leaders of the Somali government and representatives from 50 countries were meeting in Mogadishu, Al-Shabab militants carried out a new attack just 30 kilometers away.
At least six Somali government soldiers were killed and eight others were injured in two roadside explosions in a Mogadishu suburb.
A senior regional official who did not want to be named told VOA Somali that an improvised explosive device hit a Somali military convoy in the vicinity between Afgoye town and Elasha Biyaha. Soldiers retrieved the dead and wounded from the explosion and left the scene of the attack only to be hit by a second explosion down the road. Among the dead are two military officers, the source said.
The soldiers are members of the Danab (Lightning) Special Forces trained by the United States. Danab spearheaded recent gains by the government in the Lower Shabelle region where troops retook several towns, including Awdhegle, Braire, Sabiib, Anole and El-Salin.
Danab forces also helped to foil Monday’s attack by al-Shabab on Ballidogle airport. Ten militants were killed after attempting to storm the base, which is used by U.S. troops in Somalia.
The United States military gave more details about the Ballidogle attack. The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said an American soldier was treated for a concussion injury sustained as a result of the al-Shabab attack. AFRICOM also confirmed conducting one airstrike during the operation, rather than two as previously reported.
The U.S. military also confirmed carrying out a separate strike near the town of Kunyo Barrow in the Lower Shabelle region Sept. 30, killing one militant.
AFRICOM did not identify the individual targeted in this operation. Fifty-four strikes were conducted by the U.S. in Somalia to date according to AFRICOM.