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Somali hotel raid: ‘How I survived my fourth siege’

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Mohamed Moalimu

Former BBC reporter Mohamed Moalimu survived Sunday’s siege on a beachfront hotel in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu – the fourth time he has been caught up in an attack by Islamist al-Shabab militants over the last seven years.

Moalimu, who now heads the Federation of Somali Journalists, told the BBC’s Basillioh Mutahi about his ordeal and how his friend was amongst the 20 people to lose their lives at the Elite hotel during the raid:

I was trembling. My heart was beating like a drum and my body was shaking. A huge dark smoke had gone up and it was even difficult to see the entire area.

People were screaming. I could see the impact of the blast. Some people had been hit by the shattered glasses, and some were bleeding, others were shouting for help.

My friend, Abdirizak Abdi, wanted to run away immediately. I wanted to stop him because heavy shooting was going on but he ran away from me, towards the entrance.

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Reuters

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Moalimu and his friend had barely sat for 15 minutes in the hotel when the militants attacked

I waited up to the point where I could understand where the shooting was coming from, having been trained on what to do in a hostile environment.

I was very self-conscious and that actually helped me, because I checked what was going on. That is what saved me.

I knew where to rush to, and I ran in a zigzag way. I jumped up a wall and landed on the side where the hotel faces the beach.

‘Removed my T-shirt’

I could not run immediately after jumping. People running away from the scene were being shot at.

I knew if you have anything coloured, like a shirt, it could easily attract the attention of the attackers. I had on a green T-shirt so I removed it and started to run on the beach. I was barefoot, having abandoned my shoes.

The shooting was still going on but I am lucky I survived.

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Reuters

Image caption

Security forces quickly sealed off the hotel at Lido beach

Then I was trying to call my friend but the call was not going through.

I tried to look for him, alive or dead. I saw a lot of people after the blast lying on the ground. Some of them were screaming. It was a very tragic scene.

The ambulances had started to arrive despite the fact that shooting was still going on. Somebody told me that Abdirizak had been injured and taken to hospital.

Unfortunately, he had been hit by the bullets from the terrorists who were firing indiscriminately. He was hit in the leg and the chest.

‘I ran to the hospital’

At that time, movement was limited and soldiers had taken over and lot of shooting was taking place.

Abdizirak, who was working at the Ministry of Information, had just a few hours earlier collected me from my home and we had driven together to the hotel.

Abdirizak Abdi

Mohamed Moalimu

Imagine, somebody who was my colleague, a friend – we were only having a friendly chat and coffee that day – is now dead. He was dead in a few minutes”

Since cars were not allowed, I ran until I reached the hospital but unfortunately Abdirizak had been pronounced dead.

It was a terrible day – and the fourth time I have witnessed such a tragic incident in Mogadishu.

It is the only time I have not had any injuries.

In 2013 I was in front of the UN compound when al-Shabab attacked – a suicide bomb hit my car.

The other time was in 2016, near the hotel on Lido beach, where my face was badly injured.

I was lying in a pool of blood for more than two hours and it took many months being treated in hospitals here and in Nairobi and in London for my injuries to heal.

In February last year, the blast that hit Hotel Maka al-Mukarama was very destructive.

I got minor injuries from shrapnel all over my body, including on my hand. I escaped through a hole on the wall that had been created by the suicide car bomber.

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But imagine somebody who was my colleague, a friend – we were only having a friendly chat and coffee that day – is now dead.

He was dead in a few minutes. You can imagine how tragic it was. I was not able to sleep at all. I tried to but I could not. It has affected me badly.

Almost 20 people have been confirmed dead, in addition to the four attackers and a suicide bomber.

‘My family couldn’t believe I was alive’

That’s a big number – people here in Mogadishu who work during the day usually have tea at restaurants in the afternoon.

I’m very concerned that this attack happened. I had hoped that things would improve.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Lido beach is a popular place for Somalis in the capital to relax

My wife and family always advise me not to go to restaurants. Now I need to follow their advice because this is something that is not stopping.

This time my family was very worried because they knew Abdirizak was dead.

When I called them from the hospital, they could not believe that I was alive until they saw me.

They have found it hard to believe I escaped – for the fourth time.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema

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When court sat on Friday to hear the Kiggundu’s application to stop independent audit, he did not have a written application, and Justice Henry Adonyo instead ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer Fred Muwema to go make a written application seeking court to dismiss the audit and return to court on September 30 for a hearing of the application. But this adds more pressure on Kiggundu who is choking with the loans.

On 31 August, the judge ordered the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to carry out and independent audit into the accounts of the businessman and financial statements exchanged between the two parties, and present a report to court.

When asked by journalists why he has filed for an application seeking dismissal of the audit, Fred Muwema had this to say. “We are saying that let the validity and legality of those credit facilities (loans) be decided first before you can audit” He said.

The ruling on the application of the main suit to determine whether the businessman owes loan arrears to the bank is set for 5th October 2020, after which a date for hearing of the case will be set.

Background

Hamis Kiggundu through his companies Ham enterprises and Kiggs International (U) ltd sued DTB branches in Kenya and Uganda for deducting money from his accounts something which the bank contends and said they only acted as per the loan agreement of deducting 30% from Kiggundu’s accounts to recover the credit facilities rendered to him between February 2011 and September 2016

But Court documents filed by the bank in their defense shows that Kiggundu, between February 2011 and September 2016, was granted various credit facilities by the said DTB Banks.

First, via Ham Enterprises Limited, Kiggundu obtained a loan of $6,663,453 and another Sh2.5bn from the DTB (U) to finance his projects in the real estate business.

Later, according to New Vision, he got a facility worth $4.5m through Kiggs International (U) Limited from DTB (K) and mortgaged his properties, which include Plot 328 located at Kawuku on Block 248 Kyadondo, three plots that include 36, 37 and 38 on Folio 1533 Victoria Crescent II situated in Kyadondo and land on Makerere Hill Road on LRV 3716 Folio 10 Plot 923 Block 9.

Documents show that as of January 21, 2020, Kiggundu was in default on payment obligations of $6.298m on the loan facility of $6.663m, as well as sh2.885b on the demand overdraft facility of sh1.5b and the temporary demand overdraft facility of sh1b.

The banks say that Kiggundu was in default on the payment of another $3.662m out of a total loan facility of $4m and another $458,604 on a loan facility of $500,000, as of January 21, 2020.

The DTB consequently served him with a demand notice to either pay up or lose the assets that he submitted as collateral security. The bank threatened to attach a plot on Makerere Hill Road and other prime commercial properties.

Analysts says that Kiggundu’s lawyer is playing delaying tactics aimed at stopping the independent audit as ordered by the court earlier. Kiggundu had wanted court to believe his own audit of loan transactions, but that would amount to injustice to the banks that gave him money-DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded

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The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      





Source – observer.ug

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19

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Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  





Source – observer.ug

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