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Deputy Leader of IS Group in Somalia Killed in Airstrike

Gallan said the strike hit the vehicle Dhoqob and another passenger were travelling in

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Flight training has been suspended at Ratmalana, a suburb in the capital Colombo, the country's Civil Aviation Authority said in a letter to flying schools and aircraft operators. VOA

Fadumo Yasin contributed to this report from Bosaso in Puntland.

The deputy leader of the Islamic State group in Somalia has been killed in an airstrike, a Somali regional minister told VOA.

Abdisamad Mohamed Gallan, security Minister of the Puntland region, told VOA Somali the airstrike that killed Abdihakim Mohamed Ibrahim, known as Dhoqob, took place Sunday between the villages of Hol Anod and Hiriro.

Gallan said the strike hit the vehicle Dhoqob and another passenger were travelling in. He said both men were killed but the other person has not yet been identified.

airstrike, IS
IS has 200-300 men in Somalia according to experts. Al-Shabab and IS have recently been fighting in the eastern mountainous areas since December last year. VOA

“The vehicle was burned,” said a witness who didn’t want to be named.

IS Somalia is led by Sheikh Abdulkadir Mumin, a former scholar for al-Shabab. In October 2015 he defected from the group and pledged his allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Dhoqob was Mumin’s right-hand-man and has appeared in videos produced by the group. Mumin himself survived another airstrike in his mountainous hideout in Bari region in November 2017.

“Killing one of their top leaders will speed up their eradication,” Gallan said.

airstrike, IS
Gallan said the strike hit the vehicle Dhoqob and another passenger were travelling in. VOA

Puntland officials have not commented on who carried out the attack but the U.S. military in Africa has been conducting relentless strikes against militants in Somalia. This year alone, U.S. has carried out more than 30 airstrikes, all of them against al-Shabab.

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IS has 200-300 men in Somalia according to experts. Al-Shabab and IS have recently been fighting in the eastern mountainous areas since December last year.

Al-Shabab has vowed to eliminate its rival IS, accusing it of “dividing the jihadists.” Security officials told VOA Somali that IS has lost some of its territory to al-Shabab. (VOA)

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UN: 5.4 Million Face Food Shortage in Somalia Due to Climate-Related Droughts

This latest disaster comes just as Somalis were beginning to recover from the devastating impact of a two-year drought that ended in 2017

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global hunger
Somalis fleeing hunger in their drought-stricken nation walk along the main road leading from the Somalian border to the refugee camps around Dadaab, Kenya. VOA

The United Nations Refugee Agency warns an estimated 5.4 million people affected by worsening drought in Somalia will likely face severe food shortages by next month without immediate lifesaving assistance.

The U.N. Refugee Agency reports that climate-related droughts are occurring with greater frequency in Somalia. This, it says, is making things worse for the millions of people already displaced and deprived of essential necessities by the country’s chronic instability and conflict.

This latest disaster comes just as Somalis were beginning to recover from the devastating impact of a two-year drought that ended in 2017.

somalia, food shortage, drought
FILE – A Somali family who lost most of their livestock because of severe drought pose for a picture in Wajaale, Somalia, June 2017. (UNHCR/Mustafa Saeed) VOA

That event forced more than a million people to flee their homes in search of food, water and work. The UNHCR reports the current drought has displaced nearly 50,000 people so far this year.

Agency spokesman Babar Baloch says food shortages already are biting. He warns time is running out to help those affected, as the impact of the worsening drought is likely to peak by next month. He said the condition of some 2.2 million people is particularly severe, and they likely will need urgent emergency assistance.

“The risk of death and the dangers that the displaced population or the affected population are facing are real,” he told VOA. “If aid is not provided in time, people could start losing their lives. Let us not forget that in the past years that with efforts of the international community, local authorities and everyone else, famine has been avoided.”

somalia, drought, food shortage
Women who fled drought queue to receive food distributed by local volunteers at a camp for displaced persons in the Daynile neighborhood on the outskirts of Mogadishu, in Somalia, May 18, 2019. VOA

But not every year. In 2011, drought and famine in Somalia killed more than one-quarter of a million people, half of them children under age five.

U.N. agencies agree many lessons have been learned from that tragedy. Baloch says many of the support mechanisms that since have been successfully used to combat such disasters could be quickly reactivated to deal with this crisis.

ALSO READ: Somalia Drought: 2 Million at Risk of Starvation

But he says this can only be done if the money needed to contend with this humanitarian emergency is forthcoming.

Unfortunately, he says the Somali operation remains severely underfunded. He says only 20% of the U.N.’s $710 million appeal for Somali drought relief has been received. (VOA)