8 February 2014

Somalia: U.S State Department Issues Travel Warning for Somalia

The US State Department has issued a fresh travel warning for Americans going out on trip to Somalia as a result of looming threats of instability, Garowe Online reports.

According to a statement from the state department, US diplomatic absence prompted the warning: "the U.S. government is not in a position to assist or effectively provide services to U.S. citizens in Somalia. Terrorist operatives and armed groups in Somalia have demonstrated their intent to attack Somali authorities, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and other non-military target".

While noting the growing security threats to foreigners travelling to south-central regions, the US government recommended its citizens visiting Puntland and Somaliland to obtain medical evacuation insurance ahead of their take-off.

"U.S. citizens contemplating travel to Somalia, including Somaliland and Puntland, are advised to obtain kidnap and recovery insurance, as well as medical evacuation insurance, prior to travel," the statement noted.

Weak leadership

The travel warning came days after the US director of national intelligence James clapper told that persistent political infighting, weak leadership from President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, ill-equipped government institutions and pervasive technical shortfalls threatened the credibility and the effectiveness of Somalia federal government.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud dismissed the weak leadership claims from the US director of national intelligence James clapper in an interview with Financial Times.

"I don't know what sources he [Mr Clapper] used but I don't see any political infighting in Somalia today compared to the past. It is a subjective judgment based on his own [opinion]," said President Mohamud.

On the other hand, Al Qaeda linked Al Shabaab Group began to launch mortar attacks on Mogadishu-based government institutions.

Late on Friday night, Al Shabaab militants attacked a military base in Mogadishu's Huriwaa district with residents reporting that Somali government forces aided by African Union peacekeepers responded with heavy gunfire.

22,000-strong peacekeepers prop up the Somali federal government troops as large swathes of territories, mainly rural areas remain under the control of the Somali extremists.

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