US reopens Somalia mission and bases it in Nairobi

US President Barack Obama. The US on September 8, 2015 reopened its mission to Somalia and based it in Kenya. PHOTO | SAUL LOEB | AFP.

AFP

 

WASHINGTON,

The US mission to war-torn Somalia began work Tuesday without an ambassador or an embassy and based in a neighbouring country, the State Department said.

American diplomats will not be based in Mogadishu, scene of the infamous “Black Hawk Down” battle in 1993 that left 18 US servicemen and many hundreds of Somalis dead.

Instead, they will commute cautiously from Kenya’s capital Nairobi as they gradually work to strengthen Somalia’s internationally backed government.

Washington recognized the Somali government in January 2013, and Secretary of State John Kerry visited Mogadishu in May, but the country is far from stable.

SOLDIERS KILLED

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s forces are at war with Al-Shabaab militants and survive thanks to the 22,000 peacekeepers of the African Union Amisom force.

Only last week, at least 50 African Union soldiers were reported killed when Al-Shabaab fighters stormed a camp 50 miles from the capital.

“US officials will continue to travel to Somalia to conduct official business as security conditions permit,” the State Department said.

The mission will be based at the US embassy in Nairobi, whose former location near the city centre was the target of a 1998 Al-Qaeda bombing that left more than 200 dead, and be headed by a charge d’affaires.

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