Somalia: chaos mounts as search continues for kidnapped nuns

 The international community is once again focusing on Somalia, where the situation in the territory controlled by the National Transitional Government, supported by Ethiopian troops and the African Union, is deteriorating every day.

However it is the activity of Somali pirates which is mostly cause for concern, especially after the capture of the supertanker Sirius Star, with 25 men on board, and a cargo of two million barrels of oil worth 100 million dollars. It is a considerable leap in quality for the Somali pirates, both in proportion (over 300,000 tons) and economic value, as well as the fact that it was hijacked at 450 nautical miles (800 km) to the southeast of Mombasa, in Kenya. There are currently 12 ships and 200 crew members in the hands of the pirates, including the Ukrainian cargo ship "Faina." The pirates have established their base in Puntland, the semi-autonomous region in the northeastern part of the country, the homeland of President Abdullahi Yusuf, whose government is having the face the offensive of militias linked to Islamic Courts in southern Somalia.

In recent days, the "Shabab" militias that come from Kisimayola have conquered the important port city of Merka, at 70 km to the south of Mogadishu. The fall of Merka opens the way, in short time, to the conquest of the entire south-central part of the country. Some of the central areas to the north of Mogadishu are already under the control of the Shabab.

At about 100 km to the south of Mogadishu, in the city of Jowar, in the hands of Islamic factions that accepted negotiation with the Government, fighting has broken out between local militias and the Shabab in the city have claimed that they will overthrow the government and expel foreign troops from Somalia.

The Somali situation is very fragmented. The movement of the Shabab (youth) is more of an expression of the lack of a strong government for over 20 years and the frustration of a generation of youth that have known nothingmore than war, than it is an instrument of political plans. There is obviously connections with fundamentalist Islam and it is true that Somali is seeing fightin between regional and international powers, but this cannot be the only key to ciphering the situation which is more complicated than a "war on terrorism."

Amidst these situations, concern remains for Sisters Rinuccia Giraudo and Maria Teresa Olivero, of the Contemplative Missionary Movement of Charles de Foucauld of Cuneo (Italy), who were captured on November 10 at their mission in El-Wak, a town in northeastern Kenya, at 10 km from the border with Somalia. While Kenya has sent a strong military contingent to the border, with the possibility of a blitz to free the two religious, negotiations continue with their kidnappers amidst discretion, being left to the elders of the tribes involved.

Source: Fides

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