hat tip-Margo I.
Two British teachers shot dead as Islamic rebels launch school attack
The Britons were named locally as Daud Hassan Ali, from Birmingham, and Rohana Ahmed.
Mr Ali is understood to have had a wife and two sons, and had travelled to Somalia, where he was born, to set up a school two years ago.
Ms Ahmed is thought to have been in Somalia for a year.
Mr Ali’s nephew, Abdul-qadir Anshur Ali, also taught at the Hakab Private English School. He said: “My uncle came to the region to help its people learn something and now he is dead for no reason.”
The attack on the school happened as heavily armed Islamic militants seized the central Somali town of Beledweyne on Sunday.
Abdi-qani Hashi, a local resident, said: “They have taken all the strategic positions in the town, released some prisoners from the jail and burnt the house of the governor of the region.”
Sheik Muqtar Robow, leader of the Al-Shabab militia behind the attacks, said “Our fighters did not intentionally kill the teachers, but their guards targeted fire at our forces and they returned fire. Maybe they were caught in the crossfire.”
Ibrahim Harbi, national co-ordinator of the UK Somali Integration Society, said many British nationals of Somali heritage returned to the African country “to assist the needy”.
He added: “The whole country relies on the support it gets from the Diaspora community – they go back and set up schools or other projects. It is part of Somali culture to do this. These are the kind of people these two teachers were – they were just trying to improve the lives of the many Somalis who are suffering.”
He said most of southern Somalia was “incredibly unstable at the moment” and the security situation in Mogadishu was “particularly bad”.
However, he said Beledweyne was one of the oldest cities in Somalia with a strong cultural heritage and “a love for education”. He added: “The country is effectively split in two now. The south has been unstable for some time. But in Somaliland, in the north, there is democracy – it is peaceful there.”
The Kenyan victims of the attack were named as Andrew Kiebed, 29, who had been working in Somalia for two years, and a man identified only as Gilfork, 31. The Somali national had yet to be named.
Growing crisis as communities fight for survival in conflict-hit country
LAST month, 40 aid agencies, including Oxfam, issued a statement saying the crisis in Somalia had deteriorated dramatically.
There are now more than one million people in the country who have had to flee their homes, Oxfam said, and intense conflict in Mogadishu, the capital, is continuing to force an average of 20,000 people from their homes every month.
Combined with record food costs, hyper-inflation and drought in large parts of the country, communities are struggling to survive. Somali and international aid agencies are unable to respond adequately to the needs of the people.
Attacks on and killings of a id workers, the looting of relief supplies and a lack of respect for international humanitarian law by “all parties” in the conflict have left two million Somalis in need of basic humanitarian assistance.
The seizure of Beletweyne was the latest in a series of attacks intended to intimidate poorly paid and badly equipped Somali forces, and avoid drawn-out fights with their more robust Ethiopian allies.
The militia group al-Shabab, which translates as “the youth”, is the armed wing of the Council of Islamic Courts movement.
Ethiopian troops supporting government forces drove the insurgents from the capital in December 2006, prompting them to launch an Iraq-style insurgency. The militia is designated a terrorist organisation by the US state department, a categorisation it says it welcomes.
Bandits and warlords mean even schools and aid agencies are forced to employ gunmen.