Briefly

SOMALIA

Al-Shabaab’s threat seen as empty

MOGADISHU | Somalia’s Islamist al Shabaab rebels are seen as lacking the numbers and unity of purpose to carry out a threat by one of their leaders to attack the United States on its own territory.

Fuad Mohamed Khalaf, No. 3 in the group, said on Monday the al Qaeda-linked Islamists would carry out attacks in the U.S. if President Obama and American citizens did not convert to Islam.

While al Shabaab managed to carry out a major bomb attack in Uganda earlier this year, Somalia analysts based in the country and outside this week dismissed the threat against Washington as propaganda.

“I do not believe al Shabaab can implement its threat to the U.S. It is more propaganda,” Rage Farah, a history lecturer at a Mogadishu University, told Reuters news agency.

“Al-Shabaab itself admits that it failed to overcome [African Union] forces. They may threaten Uganda, countries that are within their reach,” he said.

Together with soldiers loyal to the Somali government, the African Union peacekeeping force has been making gains over al-Shabaab fighters in Mogadishu in recent weeks, suggesting the insurgents are falling back in their campaign to overthrow the government.

MOZAMBIQUE

Somali pirates attempt hijacking

NAIROBI, Kenya | The spokesman for the European Union’s anti-piracy force said Wednesday that Somali pirates have unsuccessfully targeted two ships, going farther south than ever before to attack vessels.

EU spokesman Paddy O’Kennedy said the pirates attempted to capture the NS Africa and Majestic in separate attacks in the Mozambique Channel over the Christmas weekend.

Mr. O’Kennedy said the attacks took place about 950 nautical miles south of Tanzania’s main port, Dar es Salaam.

“These are the farthest south attacks we’ve got on record,” Mr. O’Kennedy said. No other details were available.

Before the Christmas weekend attacks, the farthest south Somali pirates had reached was about 80 nautical miles east of the Tanzania-Mozambique border.

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