Fighting has flared in Mogadishu over the last few days, leaving over a hundred people dead or wounded. Al Shabaab has been on the defensive for the last few weeks, as a larger and better trained force of peacekeepers and Transitional National Government (TNG) troops went on the offensive. The government troops now control nearly half the city. Al Shabaab denies that it is suffering internal splits (over support for non-Somalis Islamic terrorists), but there are fewer al Shabaab gunmen in Mogadishu, and no new outbreaks of fighting outside the city.
In Puntland, pirates released the Fisheries and Ports Minister after holding him captive for two days. The minister was taken when his convoy approached a town held by pirates, without negotiating the visit in advance. Warlord gunmen attacked the convoy, killed one of the minister's bodyguard and took everyone else prisoner. The minister was visiting the pirate controlled town to talk with local elders. The warlord thought this was part of a plot to drive pirates out of the town. The Puntland government has openly discussed shutting down piracy operations.
Al Shabaab is increasing its pressure on foreign aid organizations to leave. Not just the foreign aid workers, but the aid supplies they bring in. This includes medical supplies. But the growing food shortage, caused by the halting of aid shipments, and a drought in southern Somalia, has about a million people facing starvation. Al Shabaab considers aid from the West as unfit for Moslems, and Islamic nations only send in a small fraction of the aid supplied by non-Moslem nations. Al Shabaab is particularly quick to ban any aid groups perceived as having a connection with the United States. Since America is the largest supplier of aid, this happens a lot. So the Somalis starve while al Shabaab considers their mission accomplished. As the truly devout Moslems see the situation; "God wills it," and there's nothing mere mortals can do to change things. Al Shabaab considers itself God's facilitators in this part of the world.
October 12, 2010: The U.S. Navy has turned over to Kenya nine Somalis it recently arrested for piracy. Kenya has already taken 110 Somali piracy suspects, and convicted 26 of them. Kenya is being paid, by Western nations, to try and jail Somali pirates, but wants more money. It's a shakedown, as Kenya is getting a lot of money for this, and much of it is being stolen by Kenyan politicians. Corruption is rampant in the region, with Somalia considered the most corrupt nation on the planet, with Kenya catching up fast. The Seychelles (a small island nation in the Indian ocean) is also prosecuting and jailing some Somali pirates, but is far smaller than Kenya (which has 136 pirates among the 53,000 convicts in its prisons and jails). Most of the pirates arrested are simply disarmed and let go. This happens because Western nations, because of their vague laws on piracy, cannot prosecute them, and Kenya and Seychelles has limited capacity to do so.
In Somalia, al Shabaab gunmen took over and closed a small airfield (K50) south of Mogadishu which is mainly used for flying in Khat from Kenya. Al Shabaab has banned the use of the narcotic Khat leaves in areas they control. Khat is a narcotic leaf that is chewed. But it must be chewed fresh (no more than a few days after harvesting), or the narcotic effect is lost. Cutting off the supply of Khat from Kenya would make a lot of armed Somalis very mad.
October 10, 2010: Pirates seized a Japanese cargo ship some 300 kilometers southeast of Somalia. Pirates have been more active in this area because there are fewer warship patrols and many merchant ships in the area are lax in their security and alertness.