Mortar fire hit neighborhoods near the presidential palace in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, on Sunday, but no casualties were reported, shortly after parliament approved the composition of the new government, an indication of the challenges the new regime is expected to face.
Already threatened with famine due to the worst drought in 40 years, Somalia has seen an escalation of attacks by the Islamist insurgent group Shebaab (“youth”) in recent months.
Yesterday Sunday, “several shells were fired from mortars at neighborhoods in the Warta-Nabada district,” near the presidential palace, said Mohamed Abdifattah, a security officer in the area.
No casualties were reported; an investigation is underway, he said.
According to an eyewitness, a mortar damaged a private hospital.
The attack — for which there was no claim of responsibility — was launched after parliament met and approved the composition of the government presented on August 2 by Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre, with 229 votes in favor, seven against and one abstention.
Mr Bare, who was named on June 15 by new President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who was elected in May, formed a team of 75 ministers and deputy ministers.
Among them is Mukhtar Robow, 53, also known as Abu Mansour: he is a former leader of the radical Islamists of al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebaab. Rejected from the organization in 2017. Takes over as Minister of Religious Affairs.
The American Embassy in Mogadishu yesterday congratulated Mr. Mohamud and Barre for parliamentary approval of the composition of the new government, assuring that the US intends to honor its commitment to contribute to the “renaissance of Somalia”.
After the election of Mr. Mohamud, US President Joe Biden decided that there would be a US military presence again in the country in the Horn of Africa, to offer help in dealing with Shebab. He thus reversed the decision of his predecessor, Republican Donald Trump, to withdraw most of the American forces deployed there.
In a state of chronic insecurity, Somalia has been faced for fifteen years by the Shebab insurgency, which remains entrenched in vast rural areas. The group has taken advantage of successive political crises in recent months to increase its attacks on the federal government and security forces.
The new government will also need to manage the crisis caused by insufficient rainfall in the last four rainy seasons. According to the UN, 7.1 million Somalis—in other words, almost half the country’s population—are acutely food insecure.
The drought also led to the displacement of 918,000 people.
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