Bringing “peace” to the capital’s airport. Somalia Jihad Update. “Islamist militant threat paralyses Mogadishu airport,” by Abdi Sheikh for Reuters, September 17:
MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Mogadishu’s main airport was largely shut down on Wednesday after militant Somali Islamists threatened to attack any planes using it.
Staff at the airport said carriers using the sea-front facility in south Mogadishu had decided not to take any risk following the threat by al Shabaab to target aircraft landing or taking off after midnight on Tuesday.
Al Shabaab, which is on Washington’s list of terrorist groups, is spearheading an insurgency against the Somali government and its Ethiopian military backers.
“Turning deaf ears to what al Shabaab said means planes will be burned and staff assassinated at their houses,” an official at the airport said. “We have agreed not to land planes.”
A weekend statement by al Shabaab said the airport was a legitimate target because it was used by the Somali government, the Ethiopian military, and African Union (AU) peacekeepers, whom it perceives as propping up the government.
About 4-5 flights daily were going through Mogadishu airport before Wednesday.
The AU, which has 2,200 peacekeepers in Somalia, mainly based at the airport, condemned the threat, saying it would harm locals because it would block medical supplies. […]
Al Shabaab’s threat against the airport reflects the growing confidence of one of the main protagonists in the Somali war. The group last month led an Islamist takeover of southern Kismayu port, giving it a strategic base near the Kenyan border.