Pontus Marine LTD- Leader of fishing industry in Somaliland

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Islamists 'share French hostages'

Medeshi
Islamists 'share French hostages'
Two French security advisers seized in Somalia this week have been split up and are now being held by two different hard-line groups, reports say.
The pair were snatched by gunmen from a Mogadishu hotel on Tuesday and were being held by the Hizbul-Islam group.
But officials say the al-Shabab group wanted them and after a row, Hizbul-Islam handed one of the men over.
Al-Shabab has recently carried out several beheadings, amputations and stonings in the areas it controls.
They are allied with Hizbul-Islam against the UN-backed interim government and together control much of southern Somalia.
Both groups are said to have links to al-Qaeda and have been reinforced by foreign fighters.
'Bear responsibility'
The BBC's Somali Service editor Yusuf Garaad Omar says al-Shabab is known for being the more radical of the two groups.
He says the hostage held by al-Shabab fighters is likely to face greater problems because they care little for their public image and have carried out killings on camera.
A group of gunmen dressed in military uniform seized the men on Tuesday morning and handed them over to Hizbul-Islam.
The move apparently sparked a row with al-Shabab, which managed to persuade the other group to hand over one of the hostages.
An unnamed al-Shabab militant told Reuters the two men had been shared "to avoid clashes between Islamists".
Somali Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Omar urged the rebel groups not to politicise the situation.
"So far, it remains a monetary issue, not a political one," he told AFP news agency.
Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, meanwhile, warned Hizbul-Islam they would "bear responsibility for any harmful action taken against the hostages".
The French advisers were reportedly helping to train the forces of government, which has recently appealed for foreign help to tackle the Islamists.
The US last month confirmed that it has sent weapons to the government, which is also being protected by some 4,000 African Union troops in Mogadishu.
Somalia has not had a functioning national government since 1991.
Moderate Islamist Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was sworn in as president in January after UN-brokered peace talks.
He promised to introduce Sharia law but the hardliners accuse him of being a western stooge.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Clashes displace hundreds of families in Somaliland


Medeshi
Clashes displace hundreds of families in Somaliland
HARGEISA, 16 July 2009 (IRIN) - At least 700 families in Somalia's self-declared republic of Somaliland have been displaced following clashes between two clans over ownership of Elberdale farmland in Gabiley region, local officials said.
Seven people were reportedly killed in the 10-12 July clashes between militiamen of Hared and Mohamoud Nour clans.
Elabe Mohamoud Hufane, the deputy mayor of Dilla in Awdal region, told IRIN between 400 and 500 families were displaced in his region alone.
"These families are now without shelter and they lost a significant number of their livestock during the clashes," Hufane said. "We know two persons were killed in the conflict and five others were injured; four are missing."
The latest clashes marked the fourth time armed conflict has broken out in the Elberdale farmland in the past six months between the Hared and Mohamoud Nour clans. The two are claiming ownership of the land and efforts to resolve the dispute have so far failed.
Khadra H. Gaydh, the deputy mayor of Gabiley, said more than 400 families in the area had been displaced and that government officials had confirmed five deaths although witnesses on the ground put the figure at 11.
A villager who requested anonymity said: "Four people were killed after they were kidnapped on 12 July and seven others were killed in the conflict."

Following the clashes, Halo Trust - an NGO undertaking demining in the area - suspended its operations in Ruqi, near the Elberdale farmland.
"We cannot risk [the lives] of our staff in the area because of the instability," a field official said, requesting anonymity.
The farmers among those displaced expressed concern for their livelihoods, saying they had fled during the planting season.
"We lost the first planting season in the early Gu [long rains] and now we are forced to flee during the current planting season," Omar Aden told IRIN.
The latest fighting followed a meeting between Somaliland President Dahir Rayale Kahin and the Gabiley elders over the dispute.
Calling for peace, the presidency appealed to clan elders from both sides to broker a ceasefire. maj/js/mw
Theme(s): (IRIN) Conflict, (IRIN) Food Security [ENDS]

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Uganda: Bodies of Ugandan soldiers killed in Somalia flown back home

Medeshi
Uganda: UPDF bodies flown back from Somalia
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The bodies of three UPDF soldiers who were killed in Somalia have been flown back into the country, the army spokesman, Major Felix Kulayigye has said.
The soldiers whose Identities have not been disclosed were hit on Saturday by a mortar by the Al Shabab militants in Somalia that also left one other soldier injured.
Major Kulaigye says the army will take care of their burial arrangements and said he could only reveal their identities after their next of kin had been handed the bodies. He also adds that the injured soldier is still alive and the chief of Land forces General Katumba Wamala is in Nairobi to see him.
Source: Daily Monitor, July 15, 2009

Sun energy empowers Ethiopian village


Medeshi
Sun energy empowers Ethiopian village
By Ellen Otzen
BBC World Service
Two years after the installation of a solar power project funded by international aid groups, villagers in northern Ethiopia say the sun's energy has turned their lives around.
Rema, 150 miles north of the capital Addis Ababa, is home to Ethiopia's largest solar project.
Here, every house in the village has electricity powered by solar lighting systems.
This is unique in Ethiopia - 80% of the population live in rural areas where only 1% of the population has access to electricity.
Lighting up the countryside has long been a challenge for African governments. Unlike houses in urban areas, villages in rural areas are often difficult to connect to the national electricity grid.
Solar power has been touted by some as the long-term solution to Africa's energy needs.
Domestic solar panels can provide cheap, clean and reliable electricity.
Light for homework
The village roofs are dotted with solar panels. One panel gives them about four lamps. The energy can also used for radios and tape recorders.
Solar power has had a significant impact on the lives of people living here.
Elfenesh Tefera, 40, enjoys solar energy at home with her farmer 50-year-old husband Aseged Hailemariam.
"Our kids can do their homework at night now, because there is light. They are very happy," says Ms Tefera.
"We've had solar energy for over a year now. We're very happy because we're saving money. Altogether we have eight children, and for our kids at school the solar energy is great."
Her husband adds: "We're taking care of the panels so that we don't have to spend money replacing them."
A local bar has increased its turnover because of solar energy. With lamp running on solar energy, people stay in the bar after darkness. falls.
Cold beer is in high demand in Rema - the bar's solar-powered fridge has made it available.
25-year old bar worker Hirut Kebede says solar panels have changed her life.
"I don't have to struggle with smoke [from the gas lamps] any more. Before we used gas lamps, we had to keep bottles cold by putting them in the sand," she said.
"Now we have more customers and compared to before I sell a lot more than I used to."
Newcomers
Samson Tsegaye is the country director of the solar energy foundation in Ethiopia, says there are currently 300 requests for new solar home systems in Rema.
There are currently 2,100 solar home systems in the village.
Because of its solar power, Rema has become attractive to people from other areas. Paraffin for lamps is often hard to find in rural areas. As a result, newcomers are settling in and building new houses in the village.
A solar technician training school has been set up in Rema where students from technical schools are trained to manage solar energy.
There are currently 33 solar energy technicians who have been trained at the school in Rema, all working in different parts of Ethiopia.
"People are sometimes suspicious of energy coming from the sun," says Mr Tsegaye.
"Some say that it is the devil's work. It was difficult for them to understand at the beginning. But when they have light in their homes, they are really happy.
"They are 24-hour light users, and that is better than the big cities in this country."
Story from BBC NEWS:

Ethiopia: Microsoft cloud computing gets down to earth

Medeshi
Microsoft cloud computing gets down to earth
By Sharon Pian Chan
The Seattle Times (MCT)
SEATTLE - For the last year, the tech world has buzzed with talk of the next big thing: cloud computing. Hailed as a breakthrough that will allow companies to compute without much hardware, the technology has pushed companies such as Microsoft, Amazon.com and Google to stake their claim.
As U.S. companies start exploring doing some of this computing this year, a school system on the other side of the globe has already leapt into the cloud. Ethiopia is rolling out 250,000 laptops to its schoolteachers nationwide, all running on Microsoft's cloud platform, called Azure.
The laptops will allow teachers to download curriculum, keep track of academic records and securely transfer student data throughout the education system, without having to build a support system of hardware and software to connect them.
"They're going to be able to leapfrog ahead of most companies in the U.S.," said Danny Kim, chief technology officer of FullArmor, a Boston company working on the software deployment in the Ethiopian project.
"There's no way we could have built up a new data center" in Ethiopia, Kim said, given the local technology environment. Rolling blackouts and slow response times in the Internet backbone would have made it difficult to develop a data network from the ground up.
A data center - the central element of cloud computing - would have taken months to build and required downtime to expand as each new batch of teachers joined the network.
By building in the Microsoft cloud, using data centers around the world that the company runs, Kim said FullArmor, working with partner SQLSoft, launched the project in weeks and can scale quickly from a pilot to tens of thousands of laptops by the end of the year.
"It extends reach of technology into the community that can take huge benefit from these services and yet may have not had access to it in the short term because of infrastructure requirements," said Doug Hauger, general manager of Windows Azure at Microsoft.
What's happening in Ethiopia captures the possibilities of the cloud, he said - "the agility, decreasing time to market, keeping it out of your own data center and allowing you to reach a broad audience regardless of where they are in the world."
Microsoft says cloud computing has the potential to drastically reduce time and cost of developing applications accessible to massive numbers of users.
Many compare it to the rise of the electrical utility. Before utilities came to dominate the generation and distribution of electricity, businesses had to generate their own power, much the way companies now build their own networks by building data centers.
The establishment of electrical-utility companies freed businesses from generating their own electricity. By building massive data centers in towns such as Quincy, Grant County, Microsoft hopes to provide computing as a utility for businesses.
And just as the rise of electrical utilities set off an explosion of assembly-line manufacturing, the cloud could seed a new wave of computing at a scale and speed that would be impossible now, advocates say.
The question is whether corporations will trust their core applications to Microsoft - or Google, Salesforce.com, Amazon.com and other data-center providers.
For instance, would a bank feel secure having its entire repository of financial data hosted on a third party's equipment?
A Seattle data center caught fire over the Fourth of July and shut down the businesses of several Internet companies, including a Microsoft search engine, Bing Travel.
While Microsoft did not run that data center, the incident highlighted physical risks in an online world.
Education in Ethiopia has undergone dramatic changes over the past 20 years.
Decades of civil unrest eroded the school system, and when the current government came to power in the early 1990s, primary-school enrollment was about 30 percent of school-age children.
It has risen to more than 80 percent, according to some estimates.
"They're really focused on broad access, but the quality is still very lacking," said David Makonnen, executive director of the International Leadership Institute Academy of Ethiopia, a Seattle nonprofit raising money to build an academy there.
Students don't have enough textbooks, the student-teacher ratio is high, and teachers are poorly paid, he said.
A system of keeping track of academic performance, for instance, would allow his academy to spot talented students throughout the country, he said.
FullArmor's Kim estimates building a network for thousands of teachers would have cost hundreds of dollars per teacher, compared with a few dollars per month via the cloud.
Through the cloud, FullArmor can push software updates, clean out viruses and send curriculum software to each laptop.
To deter theft, the teacher's laptops are tracked by location, and if they leave an area the laptop's hard drive can be wiped clean remotely.
Makonnen said that although technology alone cannot improve the quality of education, the laptop program has potential.
"Any effort that includes education through technology capability is something we would support if it improves access and improves technology capability of teachers who today are constrained by resources," he said.
(c) 2009, The Seattle Times.Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Sudan gov't buys WS-2 multi-launch rocket launchers


Medeshi
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Sudan gov't buys unknown number of WS-2 multi-launch rocket launchers from China
This new escalation of the weapon systems available to the government raises grave concerns. Is it in preparation for an unacceptable ruling on Abyei which we expect towards the end of this month, or is it in preparation for an unfavorable decision regarding the future referendum of 2011, or is it out of concern for an escalation in Darfur and beyond with Chad? So, whichever way you look at it, it’s not good news.
Source: Sudan Radio Service,

Wednesday, 15 July 2009 – full story:
Sudan Buys Rocket Launchers from China
(Asmara) – The Sudanese government has bought an unknown number of WS-2 multi-launch rocket launchers from China.
The deal raises concerns as to why the government is buying such sophisticated arms at this time.
Dr. Taysir Mohammed is the director of the Peace Building Center for the Horn of Africa.
Speaking to Sudan Radio Service by phone from Asmara, Eritrea on Wednesday, he describes the possible motivation for the government’s move.
[Taysir Mohammed]: “There are worries in the region about the political will of the National Congress Party to implement the CPA and to follow through with other peace agreements. I think many observers are worried about, not just the fragile conditions of the peace agreement throughout Sudan, but also a concern about the political will to implement them. This new escalation of the weapon systems available to the government raises grave concerns. Is it in preparation for an unacceptable ruling on Abyei which we expect towards the end of this month, or is it in preparation for an unfavorable decision regarding the future referendum of 2011, or is it out of concern for an escalation in Darfur and beyond with Chad? So, whichever way you look at it, it’s not good news.”
Dr. Taysir Mohammed went on to explain the Chinese intentions in Sudan.
[Dr. Taysir Mohammed]: “China is not only a member of the Security Council but has a Special Peace Envoy to Sudan. By selling arms, the Chinese are ruling themselves out of the peace process. They cannot be considered by any measure as honest brokers. They’ve blatantly taken the side of the government; they’ve blatantly taken the side of war. Therefore, this signals Chinese intentions towards our country. Another point to consider is the Chinese investment in oil plus the Chinese investment lately in agriculture. They’ve acquired large tracts of agricultural land in Sudan. They’re going to cultivate products which are going to be consumed by Chinese. So, they’re not contributing to the agricultural development strategies of our country. And I think the Chinese have not invested in Sudan, they’ve invested in the regime and therefore, it makes sense that they would sell sophisticated weaponry to the regime.”
Dr. Taysir Mohammed was speaking to Sudan Radio Service from Asmara, Eritrea.
- - -

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

African View: A question of leadership


Medeshi
African View: A question of leadership
In our series of weekly viewpoints from African journalists, columnist and filmmaker Farai Sevenzo considers issues of leadership and that Obama trip to Ghana.
My fellow Africans, it is an honour for me, indeed for us as a people, to be living in these times.
From Accra to Zanzibar, from Lusaka to Libreville, we have been witnessing leadership the likes of which we may never see again.
Just the other week, somewhere in a Libyan backdrop, a great leader said we should become the United States of Africa immediately, that we should not wait.
And within the last 12 months, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had been shouting from every mountain-top for the African people to share in his grand design of African Unity.
"We want an African military to defend Africa, we want a single African currency, we want one African passport to travel within Africa," the colonel told assembled kings, chiefs and traditional rulers last year - before being declared "King of Kings" by the gathered chiefs, who were themselves in danger of being declared clowns with crowns.
Predictable leadership
But nobody listened then and they weren't listening only two weeks ago when those who purport to be our leaders gathered in the colonel's tent in Sirte and gave us another predictable African Union conference in which the brotherhood of presidents nod to each other and ignore issues of human rights.
“ Obama understands them, said the commentators, he can speak to Africans better than anyone else can, as if the language of empathy is an alien one ”
They talk up the idea of union even as they wage wars against their neighbours and kill their own for voting the wrong way, and choose to stick together when the International Criminal Court accuses one of their own of crimes against humanity.
Save Bashir from the evil ICC, they cried. No he must face the music, said Botswana.
Occasionally there is a lone voice of dissent, but leadership as we have come to know it is predictable fare and the pace of change on our continent remains tied to the fate of men and women who have no wish to give up that leadership.
Friend in the White House
I was in the middle of these musings over a very late breakfast, when the airwaves seemed to go up a pitch in great excitement. It was as if the second coming was here.
Journalists, broadcasters, ordinary people were positively gushing over the expected speech of one Barack Hussein Obama to the parliament of Ghana in Accra.
Whenever this grandson of Kenya opens his mouth, it is to spew great floods of hope and purpose, to carry all our ears to the loftiest clouds of possibilities. Furthermore, unlike an Obama Beer, he leaves no trace of a hangover after these flights of fancy.
“ Will it stop the killings, the rapes the blind loyalty to men who will not be in the future we need to build? ”
He spoke to the chosen lucky Ghanaians and reminded them of their proud past, he evoked Kwame Nkrumah and told us Africans to fight for our right to democracy.
He went on and on with that pop star charisma about what this 21 Century demands of us if we are to reach our full potential.
He chided and encouraged, bit and blew kisses, and like everyone else who has been caught in the glow of his amazing journey, the Ghanaians seemed to glow at Barack Obama's passing over their fair city.
Obama understands them, said the commentators, he can speak to Africans better than anyone else can, as if the language of empathy is an alien one. Is this the leadership model that will win us over? Is this the one to follow?
Then what do we do with all the generals and coup-plotters and geriatric old men who gathered in the colonel's tent a fortnight ago to silently imply that democracy doesn't work in Africa, that opposition breeds violence?
And what exactly did his speech tell us that we have not been saying to ourselves?
More importantly will it stop Africans from crossing the desert, paying people traffickers for the privilege of drowning off the Spanish coast in search of a life outside of Africa?
Will it stop the killings, the rapes, the blind loyalty to men who will not be in the future we need to build?
Will presidents end their habit of changing constitutions so they can stay on and on and on? According to the Orator, it's really up to us.
And before you all start screaming "Yes We Can" at your radios, or naming your twins Barack or Hussein, yes the President of America is the first friend we have had in the White House in a long time, he said he carries African blood in his veins, but he cannot fix our tomorrows.
BBC

Eight Ethiopian Maids Poisoned in the UAE


Medeshi
Eight Ethiopian Maids Poisoned in the UAE
Written by Benjamin Joffe-Walt
Published Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Eight Ethiopian domestic workers are believed to have been murdered by poisoning in the United Arab Emirates.
Sources at the Ethiopian embassy in the UAE told the Gulf News that eight female maids had been poisoned by a compatriot maid last Wednesday in an apartment in Sharjah, the largest city in the third largest emirate of the country.
The woman accused of killing the eight domestic workers is said to be held in the emirate's central jail, but Sharjah police have publicly denied reports of the multiple murders, calling them "just rumors."
The embassy sources said the police had reported the incident to them, but were still investigating the motive behind the killings.
The sources claimed the bodies of the eight murdered women had been transferred to the morgues at two local hospitals. Officials at both hospitals reported that no bodies had been brought to the morgue, but that it was possible the bodies had been sent for forensic examinations.
The women are understood to have been living together in an apartment in the Abu Shagara neighborhood of the city.
The UAE has received extensive criticism over the years from human rights and labor organizations over the conditions for foreign workers in the country.
Domestic workers, which make up a significant proportion of the UAE's predominately foreign population, have complained of sub-standard housing, lack of medical care, abuse and non-payment of wages.
The average Emirati household had 10 members in 2008, including domestic workers and drivers. The average monthly wage last year for such a household was the equivalent of about U.S. $12,800.The government announced new regulations two years ago requiring holiday, medical care and registered salaries for all foreign domestic workers in the country. A conflict resolution unit was also set up to resolve disputes between employees and workers.
"This is a category of workers that are extremely vulnerable because there are no labor laws that apply to them," Ibrahim Awad, Director of the International Migration Program at the International Labor Organization, told The Media Line. "In most countries migrant domestic workers are not covered by domestic labor laws because their workplace is a household. This presents a very big challenge."
"International instruments of human rights apply to domestic workers and there are regulations in the UAE that ensure that domestic workers are paid their wages," Awad continued. "By law, passports and documents cannot be withheld from migrant workers, for example, but the degree of enforcement varies. This presents a particular problem for domestic workers because labor inspectors cannot get access to their workplaces as they work in private homes."
The International Labor Organization plans to push international standards or labor recommendations for domestic laborers in their annual conference next year.
The United States recently placed the country on a watch list of countries with poor human trafficking records.
Ethiopian women are regularly trafficked via Djibouti, Egypt and Somalia for domestic servitude, particularly to the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.
The Ethiopian government banned its citizens from traveling to Lebanon in May last year following the deaths of a number of Ethiopian domestic workers in the country. The ban remains in effect.
Copyright © 2008 The Media Line.
---------------------
Police denied rumours of the murder of eight women in an apartment in Sharjah

By Bassma Al Jandaly,

Staff ReporterGulf News

Sharjah: The Sharjah Police are denying the deaths of eight women, suspected to have been poisoned by a woman.
Ethiopian consulate sources yesterday told Gulf News that the eight illegal housemaids were poisoned by a compatriot maid, who has been held in Sharjah Central Jail.
The incident, the sources said, took place last Wednesday. The women were staying together in an apartment in Abu Shagara.
The sources said police informed them of the incident, but refused to reveal the motive behind it, saying investigations were continuing.
Sharjah Police told Gulf News that the report was baseless.
"These are just rumours," a police official said.
According to the consulate sources, the bodies of the eight women were transferred to Al Kuwait Hospital and Al Qasimi Hospital.
Al Kuwait Hospital denied the issue, saying no bodies were brought to the morgue.
"They could have been sent to the forensic laboratory," a hospital official said.
No bodies were taken to Al Qasimi Hospital either, doctors there said.
Mystery Shrouds Death of Eight Ethiopian Maids in United Arab Emirates
Afkar Abdullahkhaleejtimes.com
14 July 2009
SHARJAH
United Arab Emirates- Eight Ethiopian maids were found dead under mysterious circumstances in their Al Butaina weekend apartment here recently, a police source said. Poisoning is suspected and the motive remains unclear.
While officially the police declined a comment, the source described the eight as absconders and said they got together in the said apartment over the weekend. An argument is understood to have preceded the event.
The matter was reported to the police on July 8 and later referred to forensics, the source said. While investigations are under way, arrests have been made, but an exact number could not be ascertained.
--------------
Ed's Note: We have tried to get clarification from Ethiopian embassy in UAE and thus far we have not heard back from them. Below is the contact information
Head of the Mission Ethiopian Embassy in UAE
Ato Abdullahi Yusuf Ambassador Extraordinary and plenipotentiary.
Chancery Address
Bur Dubai, Al Mankhool St, Sharaf Bldg Flat # 222/2, 6th floor
Chancery Tel No: +971-4-3516868, +971-4-3513550 (Direct)
Residence AddressIbrahim & Mohd Obaidullah 124/22B Street DM.44 Reqqa East Flat/25
Fax 971-4-3516328
P. O. Box 115353
E-mail Address ethcodu@ethcongen.ae

Source : Nazret

Two French Security Advisors Seized in Somalia

Medeshi
Two French Security Advisors Seized in Somalia
By VOA News 14 July 2009
Unidentified gunmen have kidnapped two French security advisors from a hotel in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.
Witnesses say at least 10 men stormed the Sahafi Hotel Tuesday, and grabbed the two foreigners from their rooms.
The kidnapped men had registered at the hotel as journalists. But the French foreign ministry says they were on an official mission to help the Somali government with security matters.
The ministry says all appropriate French agencies have been mobilized to help find the two.
No one has claimed responsibility for the abductions. Several witnesses say some of the gunmen were wearing government uniforms.
Sources in Mogadishu tell VOA the kidnapped men were taken into a part of the capital controlled by the Islamist militant group al-Shabab.
Al-Shabab is the most powerful of several Islamist groups trying to topple the Somali government.
The government recently appealed for foreign assistance to help fight the insurgent groups.
The Paris-based media rights group, Reporters Without Borders, said it hoped for the men's quick release but expressed shock that they had been posing as journalists.
The group said being a journalist is not a cover, it is a profession. It said their behavior endangers journalists in a region where reporting is already very dangerous.
Somalia is chaotic after 18 years of internal strife, and foreigners are frequent kidnap targets. Kidnap victims usually are released unharmed, but in many cases only after a ransom is paid.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

Death of U.S. jihadist in Somalia shocks family

Medeshi
Death of U.S. jihadist in Somalia shocks family
Tue Jul 14, 2009
By Abdiaziz Hassan
NAIROBI (Reuters) - The mother of an American national of Somali origin killed fighting for Islamist rebels in Mogadishu collapsed after seeing images of her dead son being paraded in the street, the man's uncle said on Tuesday.
The body of Jamal Ahmed Bana, 20, was displayed semi-naked with a bullet hole in his head in Mogadishu at the weekend after battles between al Shabaab insurgents and government forces backed by African Union (AU) troops.
Relatives in Minneapolis, a city in the U.S. Midwest that is home to the largest Somali-American community, identified him from photos on the internet taken by Somali media.
The Somali government says foreign fighters are leading the Islamist insurgency, and there is increasing international concern at the influx of hundreds of jihadists into Somalia -- from Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Gulf region and western nations including the United States and Britain.
Some, like Bana, are immigrants of Somali origin. Bana was fighting for al Shabaab when he was killed along with roughly 40 other rebels on Saturday, said his uncle, Omar Ahmed Sheikh.
Sheikh said his nephew, a former engineering student at Minnesota's Hennepin Technical College, was misled by clerics in Minneapolis and persuaded to go to Somalia in November 2008.
"They told him they would teach him Islamic religion ... But they are terrorists and cannot claim they are Muslims."
Sheikh said Bana's mother, Somali-born Abayte Ahmed Sheikh, was rushed to hospital on Monday after seeing the pictures.
"She was very shocked when she got the news of her son," he told Reuters by telephone. "She is in a serious condition."
TEENAGERS WENT TO SOMALIA
Many Somalis fled their homeland after factional fighting began in 1991; an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 live in the United States. Other Somali-American population centers include Seattle, San Diego, Atlanta and Columbus, Ohio.
In March, officials of the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center told Congress that "tens" of Somali-Americans, primarily from Minneapolis, had returned to Somalia to fight with al Shabaab.
Omar Jamal, director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in Minneapolis, told Reuters Bana was one of 18 teenagers who ran away to Somalia last November after attending a youth program at a local mosque.
"They (the clerics) convinced some of these teenagers to drop out of school, go back home and wage jihad," he said.
Jamal said the families of the 18 youths were shocked when they heard they had run away to join al Shabaab.
"They stayed in the mosque for a week, day and night," Jamal said. "They did not go to school in that week.
"When we questioned the Imam on where the children were, and the content of the lessons that were going on, many people accused us of being against Islam."
Three of the group have since died, Jamal said, adding that al Shabaab was active in the United States and Canada.
"They are here, recruiting young children and brainwashing them," he said. "They do it in an intelligent way, by offering incentives to hopeless street children and teenagers who drop out of schools. They have supporters in Minneapolis. Some are financing them."
Reuters reporters were unable to contact representatives of the Minneapolis mosque by telephone.

Human Rights Watch says Somaliland Democracy Teetering


Medeshi
Human Rights Watch says Somaliland Democracy Teetering
By Alan Boswell
Nairobi
13 July 2009
The autonomous region of Somaliland is in danger of losing its democratic and human rights gains if its leadership does not soon mend its ways, according to a human rights group. The group accuses the international community of harmful neglect and calls for new international engagement before critical elections are delayed again.
A report released by Human Rights Watch cautions that Somaliland is at a crucial juncture after an unlikely recent history of democratic progress and relative stability in the Horn of Africa.
Besides accusing the Somaliland government of stifling public dissent and of bypassing the country's legal system, the group's greatest concern is the likely possibility of further delays in the scheduled presidential election.
The election is currently set for September. But the election has already been pushed back 18 months, and Human Rights Watch researchers accuse Somaliland President Dahir Riyale Kahin of purposefully dragging his feet in organizing the poll.
Human Rights Watch senior researcher Chris Albin-Lackey says Somaliland's unique success story within a region where human rights violations are the norm should give additional impetus to the fight to save the territory's threatened democracy.
"In a way it is precisely the things that Somaliland has done well that makes these issues so important, because those gains - so fragile and so rare in this part of the world - are now very much under threat, and could begin to unravel if the government does not change course," he said.

The northwest Somali region declared its independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 after the central government in Mogadishu was toppled.

The region has since operated autonomously, but has yet to be recognized as an independent state by any outside nation - leaving the territory in legal limbo for nearly two decades.

According to Albin-Lackey, the sensitivity of the recognition issue in Somaliland provides the international community with substantial leverage to pressure the government. He says the West's continued refusal to treat Somaliland at all separately from the war-torn areas of central and southern Somalia represents a missed opportunity.
"What is really needed is a new policy framework on the part of international donors that looks at the realities here on the ground in Somaliland and engages with those in-and-of-themselves and a much greater willingness to invest time and resources to following what is going on here and finding effective ways both to provide assistance and to pressure the government to do the right thing," he said.
Somaliland has cooperated with the United States and other Western nations in combating terrorism and piracy as part of its quest to receive international recognition.
The report suggests the raging Somali conflicts elsewhere have had a chilling effect on the territory's democratic processes. According to the report, the Somaliland people are wary of too strongly standing up for their rights out of fear of upsetting the territory's fragile peace.