17/09/08 (B465-B) BBC / Attaque meurtriére de l’Ambassade US à Sanaa au Yémen par deux voitures béliers. Au moins 16 morts. Blasts rock US embassy in Yemen (Info lecteur – En Anglais)

A double car bomb attack on the US embassy in Yemen has killed at least 16 people, Yemeni officials say.

Washington said bombers targeted the main security gate as staff were arriving for work, but they failed to breach the compound’s walls.

The militants, who were reportedly dressed as policemen, also exchanged gunfire with guards during the assault.

The US blamed al-Qaeda for the attack, and President George Bush said it was a reminder that the US is at war.

Security sources said six members of the Yemeni security forces, six attackers, and four bystanders were killed in the attack, which occurred in the capital, Sanaa, at about 0830 (0530 GMT).

We saw… a massive fireball very close to the US embassy

Trev Mason
eyewitness

Yemen faces new Jihad generation
US officials have confirmed that none of the casualties were Americans

Speaking in Washington, Mr Bush said the attack was "a reminder that we are at war against extremists who will murder innocent people to achieve their ideological objectives".

Mr Bush said the US government wanted people to be able to lead normal lives and would "help governments survive the extremists".

Condemning the "vicious" attack, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said it bore "all the hallmarks of an al-Qaeda attack".

Separately, White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said the US would continue working with Yemen’s government to "increase our counter-terrorism activities to prevent more attacks from taking place".

‘Massive fireball’

British citizen Trev Mason described hearing explosions while in his residential compound near the embassy.

"We heard the sounds of a heavy gun battle going on," he told CNN television.

"I looked out of my window and we saw the first explosion going off, a massive fireball very close to the US embassy."

The attack is the second on the embassy in the past six months.

Earlier this year, the US ordered the evacuation of non-essential personnel from Yemen after mortar bombs were fired towards the embassy. They missed but hit a nearby school.

A group calling itself the Islamic Jihad in Yemen said it had carried out the attack, and threatened to target other foreign missions in the region unless its jailed members were released.

The authenticity of the claim could not be immediately verified.

‘Sophisticated attack’

Sean McCormack said he understood that two vehicle-borne bombs had been involved in Wednesday’s attack.

"They didn’t succeed in this case, and it’s a testament again to the kind of security upgrades that we have put in place," he said.

"We are looking at what further security steps we might take in the coming days to make sure the embassy is protected."

Yemen has long been a haven for Islamist militants.

In 2000, 17 US sailors were killed when suicide bombers with alleged links to al-Qaeda blew themselves up on an inflatable raft next to the USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden.

The government of Yemen, which backs America’s "war on terror", has often blamed al-Qaeda for attacks on Western targets in the country.

US special forces have been helping the government fight the Islamist militants, but analysts say there has been only limited success in restraining the militant groups.

Yemen is a desperately poor corner of the Middle East and, like Afghanistan, there is rugged mountainous terrain, with a vast supply of weapons.

05/09/08 (B463-B) BBC : la Malaisie envoie 3 bâtiments de sa marine de guerre pour protéger les navires marchands des attaques de pirates. Malaysia deploys navy to Somalia (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

Malaysia is sending three navy ships to the coast of Somalia to protect merchant vessels from piracy.

The ships, carrying troops and helicopters, are expected to begin patrolling in the Gulf of Aden in the next few days.

Two Malaysian tankers from the shipping line MISC Berhad were seized last month by Somali pirates.

The seas off Somalia, close to busy shipping routes, have some of the highest rates of piracy in the world.

The country has been without a functioning central government for 17 years and has suffered from continual civil strife.

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said the ships being deployed would provide protection for five MISC Berhad vessels, and would not launch rescue operations.

Counting ships

Officials in the semi-autonomous Somali region of Puntland say the ships are being held at the port of Eyl, a lawless outpost controlled by gangs.

Puntland’s minister for mines, who is leading a delegation to investigate the hijackings, told the BBC Somali Service from a hill overlooking the port that he could count eight captured vessels.

He said another two were reported to be on their way to Eyl.

The delegation had spoken to local elders, he said, but it had not approached the pirates.

The latest vessel to be hijacked was an Egyptian ship which was reported missing on Thursday.

Earlier this week a French sailing boat with two crew was seized.

Pirates holding that boat are reportedly seeking a ransom of more than $1m (£0.56m).

Puntland’s ports minister said after the capture of the French boat that pirates in the region were well-armed and employ a lot of people.

He said there was little co-ordination between those trying to tackle them.

In June, the UN Security Council voted to allow countries to send warships into Somalia’s waters to tackle the pirates, but the ports minister complained that international vessels "don’t intervene".

22/08/08 (B461-B) BBC / Au moins 50 civils auraient été tués lors des violents combats à Mogadiscio et au port de Kismayo. Scores killed in Somali clashes (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

At least 50 people have reportedly been killed in clashes in the Somali capital Mogadishu and the port of Kismayo.

Some 30 people have been killed in two days of fierce fighting between Islamists and a clan militia in Kismayo, a BBC reporter says.

Some mortars landed near the compound of President Abdullahi Yusuf, who is currently out of the country.

Another landed near a mosque in the busy Bakara market, killing at least six people, a witness told the BBC.

At least 3,000 people are reported to have fled the fighting around Kismayo.

Witnesses say that after the mortars landed in Bakara and near the president’s compound, government troops and their Ethiopian allies opened fire, killing several civilians.

One witness told the BBC that the mortar landed outside the mosque as people were preparing for prayers.

He said that the wounded could not be evacuated for some time because of the horrific scenes.

Ethiopian troops entered Somalia in December 2006, to oust Islamist forces from Mogadishu.

Somalia has been without a functioning national government since 1991 and has suffered ongoing civil strife.

The UN’s World Food Programme is expanding its programme to feed 2.4 million people in Somalia by the end of the year.

22/08/08 (B461-B) BBC / Plus de 60 personnes ont été tuées et 150 blessées en Somalie cette semaine durant l’attaque du Port de Kismayo / Death toll rises in south Somalia (En Anglais – Info lectrice)

There has been more violence in the capital this week

More than 60 people are reported to have been killed and 150 wounded during clashes in the Somali port of Kismayo.

More than 3,000 people have fled the southern city, where an estimated 10 people died on the third day of some of the most intense fighting for months.

A BBC reporter says Islamists have been trying to seize control of the port from a local clan.

There has also been fierce fighting in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and pirate hijackings off the north coast.

The BBC’s Mohamed Olad Hassan says Kismayo, Somalia’s third city, is strategically important because it serves as a port for the south of the country and for neighbouring Kenya.

The head of a human rights group in the port said the fighting had caused an acute humanitarian crisis.

Many people have no access to food and all business activity is reported to have stopped.

Market hit

In Mogadishu on Thursday, some mortars landed near the compound of President Abdullahi Yusuf, who was out of the country.

Another landed near a mosque in the busy Bakara market, killing at least six people, a witness told the BBC.

Witnesses said government troops and their Ethiopian allies responded by opening fire, killing several civilians.

At least 20 people were reported to have been killed in fighting in the capital.

Ethiopian troops entered Somalia in December 2006, to oust Islamist forces from Mogadishu.

The police chief in the capital said people who wanted to sabotage talks in neighbouring Djibouti between Somalia’s provisional government and its Islamist rivals were behind the most recent violence, our correspondent reports.

Somalia has been without a functioning national government since 1991 and has suffered ongoing civil strife.

The UN’s World Food Programme is expanding its programme to feed 2.4 million people in Somalia by the end of the year.

Piracy

Meanwhile, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said on Friday that pirates had seized a German cargo ship off the Somali coast a day earlier.

Earlier, a Japanese tanker and an Iranian bulk carrier had been hijacked in the Gulf of Aden, a busy international shipping route to the north of Somalia.

An IMB spokesman said a warship from an international force was tracking the hijacked ships.

Another ship, a Malaysian oil tanker with 39 crew was captured in the same area on Tuesday.

16/08/08 (B461) BBC / Le Président somalien et son Premier Ministre participent à un face à face en Ethiopie pour tenter d’apaiser leurs divergences. Somali leaders in talks over rift (En Anglais – Info lectrice)

The Somali president and prime minister will hold face-to-talks in Ethiopia in an attempt to resolve an ongoing rift between the two leaders.

Relations between President Abdullahi Yusuf and Premier Hussein Nur Adde have been strained in the past few weeks.

There are fears that the rift could affect a ceasefire agreement signed with the opposition in June.

Meanwhile, there have been two blasts along the road to the Mogadishu airport as the two leaders left for Ethiopia.

Reports say the insurgents detonated two landmines near the convoy, and that Ethiopian-backed government troops responded by opening fire, killing five civilians.

Ethiopia helped government forces oust the Islamists in 2006 but has since become bogged down in Somalia.

Neutral figure

The BBC’s Elizabeth Blunt in Addis Ababa says Ethiopia is growing increasingly impatient with the constant feuding within the Somali government’s ranks.

The rift between the two leaders has spread to parliament, where supporters of President Yusuf have threatened to pass a vote of no confidence in the prime minister.

Mr Nur Adde and top Islamist leader Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed signed a three-month ceasefire agreement in June.

Delegations from both sides are to consider political and security issues at a meeting in Djibouti on Saturday.

Another prominent Islamist leader, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, has refused to negotiate until all Ethiopian troops had left the country

Our correspondent says Ethiopia should have some influence over President Yusuf as his government would be extremely vulnerable without Ethiopian military support.

Former Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Ghedi was forced out of government in October after a series of disagreements with President Yusuf.

When Mr Nur Adde replaced Mr Ghedi, he was seen as a neutral figure who would make competent prime minister.

Somalia has experienced almost constant civil conflict since the collapse of Mohamed Siad Barre’s regime in January 1991.

08/08/08 (B459-B) BBC / Selon une déclaration de son Premier Ministre, le KENYA continuera la lutte contre le terrorisme, tant que la Somalie voisine n’aura pas d’institutions politiques stables. / Kenya’s struggle with terrorism will continue as long as neighbouring Somalia remains lawless, the prime minister has said. (En Anglais – Info lectrice)

Kenya and Tanzania are marking the 10th anniversary of the US embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga joined relatives and survivors at the site of the attack in Nairobi, which is now a memorial garden.

More than 220 people died in the first major al-Qaeda attack on US targets.

« A lawless Somalia threatens Kenya’s security, » Mr Odinga said during the commemoration ceremony.

« We need to build a new strategic engagement with popular voices in Somalia. »

He said the bombing ended country’s innocence about the brutality of terrorism.

The ceremonies come days after Kenyan police narrowly failed to arrest the suspected mastermind of the bombings, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed.

Vigilance

Mr Odinga said the failure to apprehend Mr Mohammed reminded Kenyans that « we have terrorists in our midst still planning awful deeds ».

« We must therefore never relax our vigilance against these extremists. Let me assure Kenyans that this government will do everything possible to prevent us from ever again being attacked, » Mr Odinga said.

My eyes were destroyed on the spot by the glass / Catherine Bwire

Sunday’s botched operation to arrest Mr Mohammed has raised questions in Kenya about whether the government is doing enough to protect its citizens from the threat of terrorism.

The police have intensified their manhunt for the fugitive in the coastal city of Mombasa, and security along the country’s borders has been tightened.

The country’s sizeable Muslim community has complained that the « war on terror » is being used to victimise Muslims.

But the prime minister denied claims that the community was being used as a scapegoat, saying Islam was a religion of peace.

At least 17 Kenyan Muslims are being held in Ethiopia on suspicion of involvement in terrorism.

Bitterness

The BBC’s Peter Greste in Nairobi says the solemn ceremony rekindled painful memories for those who survived the attack and the families of the victims.

It also uncovered deep bitterness and frustration among the survivors who accuse both the Kenyan and the American governments of failing to compensate them for their losses, he says.

US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger said the best way to honour victims of the bombings was to look at the achievements of the last ten years.

« I truly believe that the fact that Kenya and the United States have both moved ahead to strengthen their democracies and to expand well-being for their people is probably the best honour we could possibly pay to those victims, » he said.

At about 1030 local time on 7 August 1998, a suicide bomber threw a grenade at the guardhouse outside the US embassy in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, and tried to ram his way through the barricades.

He then detonated the explosives packed inside the vehicle, severely damaging the embassy and bringing down a seven-story building near by, killing 218 people and wounding more than 4,000.

A simultaneous attack on the embassy in Dar es Salaam killed 11 people, and wounded 72.

The bombings were al-Qaeda’s first major strike in its conflict with the United States.

02/08/08 (B459) BBC : une bombe tue un soldat Ugandais des Forces de paix de l’UA en Somalie. Somali bombing kills peacekeeper (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

Only Uganda and Burundi have sent peacekeepers to Somalia

A Ugandan soldier serving with the African Union (AU) peace force in Somalia has been killed by a roadside bomb in the capital, Mogadishu.

The attack took place near the international airport where most of the peacekeepers in Somalia are based.

So far only about 2,200 of a planned 8,000-strong AU peacekeeping force have been sent to Somalia.

Meanwhile, the UN children’s agency has warned about the number of children being killed in the conflict.

Unicef says more than 150 children have been killed or injured in shelling, bombings and crossfire in the past year as Ethiopian-backed Somali government troops have battled Islamist insurgents.

Intensifying conflict

The BBC’s Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says only last week five children were killed as they were fleeing from school and two more died while playing football on a public pitch.

Unicef’s Hannan Sulieman said the intensified conflict was affecting children « far more » than in the past.

The conflict is believed to have created more than one million refugees

Children were being recruited to fight, and many more were malnourished, she told the BBC’s Network Africa programme.

« The situation in Somalia has been noted to be the worst it has ever been, particularly in Mogadishu and the outlying areas, » she said.

AU troops have not been able to quell the violence, which has triggered what aid workers say may be the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa.

It is estimated that the conflict has created more than one million refugees.

In December 2006, Ethiopian troops helped the transitional government oust Islamist forces who had been charge of southern Somalia for much of that year.

Somalia has been devastated by conflict since 1991, when former President Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted.

10/07/08 (B455) BBC Après la libération d’un batiment allemand, un cargo ukrainien a été libéré contre une rançon de US $. Mais un autre navire aurait été arraisonné en même temps – Un chauffeur de Poids lourd du Pam tué / Somali pirates profit from ransom (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

The seas off Somalia have some of the highest rates of piracy in the world

Pirates in northern Somalia have freed a Ukrainian ship and its 14-member crew for a ransom of $800,000 (£400,000), officials in the region say.

As the vessel’s release was secured, another ship was taken in Puntland off the most northerly tip of the country.

The BBC’s Ahmed Mohamed Ali in Puntland says these developments follow the recent release of German ship MV Lehmann Timber for $750,000 (£375,000).

The seas off Somalia have some of the highest rates of piracy in the world.

Our correspondent says the name of the ship taken hostage on Tuesday evening is not yet known.

Eyewitnesses say it is heading in a southerly direction towards Eyl on the Somali coast.

Somalia has not had a functioning national government since 1991 and has been wracked by civil strife.

Meanwhile, prominent peace activist and businessman Ali Jama Bihi has been shot dead in the central town of Galkayo.

The killing sparked protests in the town but it is not clear who was responsible.

Driver killed

In June, the UN Security Council voted to allow countries to send warships into Somalia’s waters to tackle the pirates.

Pirates often target ships carrying food aid, meaning donors sometimes send aid overland instead, which is far more expensive.

The UN has warned that nearly half of Somalia’s population is likely to require aid later this year, following drought compounded by the insecurity.

On Monday, World Food Programme Ahmed Saalim was shot dead at a militia checkpoint.

He is the fourth WFP driver to be killed this year.