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Deadly Suicide Blast Rips Through Hotel in Somalia

A deadly hotel bombing in Mogadishu has killed at least 19 people, including three Somali Cabinet ministers.  Some reports say the death toll could be higher.  The blast targeted a university graduation ceremony being attended by a number of government officials.   Mogadishu's Shamu Hotel was hosting a graduation ceremony for Banadir University.  Eyewitnesses tell VOA a suicide bomber gained access to the venue dressed as a woman, donning a full abaya and a veil.

Islamist Ally Turns on Somalia's al-Shabab

In Somalia, an Islamist faction says it considers its former ally, al-Shabab, to be the greatest threat to the country.  A spokesman for the leader of the Ras Kamboni faction of Hizbul Islam says Hizbul Islam fighters are preparing to challenge al-Shabab in all areas of southern and central Somalia. The spokesman for the leader of the Ras Kamboni Brigade tells VOA the fight against al-Shabab militants, which began in late September in the southern port city of Kismayo, is expected to continue until al-Shabab is ousted from Somalia.  Abdinasir Seraar is the spokesman for Ahmed Madobe, the m

Somali Pirates Seize Greek-Owned Tanker

Maritime officials say Somalia pirates have seized an oil tanker, some 1,100 kilometers off the coast of Somalia. Authorities say the Greek-owned Maran Centaurus, with 28 crewmembers on board, was hijacked Sunday.  Officials say the tanker, which can transport more than 2-million barrels of oil, was sailing from the Middle East to the United States. A tanker full of oil would be worth millions and could pose a huge security and environmental threat.  Somali pirates have hijacked dozens of ships over the past two years, demanding and receiving millions of dollars in ransom from the

Somali Insurgents Order Halt to Imported Food Aid

Islamist insurgents in Somalia have told the United Nations' World Food Program to stop importing food aid into the country. The group al-Shabab said in a statement Wednesday that the massive importing of food is ruining Somalia's agriculture sector. The rebels said the WFP must start buying food from local farmers for distribution to the needy. Al-Shabab warned Somali businesses to stop working with the U.N.

Pirates Seize Greek-Owned Ship off Yemen

A Kenyan maritime official says pirates have hijacked a Greek-owned bulk carrier in the Gulf of Aden, near Yemen. Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers Assistance Program says Red Sea Spirit was taken Thursday, but news of the seizure only emerged Saturday. Somali pirates have continued to defy foreign navies patrolling the waters off the Horn of Africa and are holding at least 13 vessels and more than 200 crew.

Media Rights Groups Call for Probe Into Shooting of VOA Reporter in Puntland

International media rights groups are expressing shock and concern over reports a journalist working for VOA's Somali Service in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland may have been deliberately shot by the police.   Tuesday's shooting of reporter Mohamed Yasin Ishaq in the Puntland-administered part of Galkayo in central Somalia has sparked alarm among international media groups already distressed by deteriorating working conditions for journalists in Somalia.

Somali Pirates Free Spanish Boat With 36 Crew

Somali pirates have freed a Spanish fishing boat with 36 crew members after holding them for more than six weeks. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced the ship's release at a news conference Tuesday. He said the MV Alakrana is sailing toward safe waters and that all of its crew members are "safe and sound." Earlier Tuesday, pirates holding the ship told reporters they had received a multimillion dollar ransom for its release.   Asked whether a ransom was paid, Mr.