US tells Somalia mission staffers to leave over threat

Order comes a day after US military carries out first drone strikes against Daesh in Somalia

15:40 November 5, 2017

Mogadishu: The United States has ordered all non-essential employees of its mission to Somalia to leave the capital, Mogadishu, because of “specific threat information” against them.

The order came a day after the US military carried out its first drone strikes against Daesh-allied fighters in Somalia, saying “several terrorists” had been killed in the northern Puntland region.

Somalia remains one of the world’s most dangerous countries. The US hasn’t had an embassy there since 1991 and calls security “extremely unstable.” The US Mission to Somalia has been based in neighbouring Kenya, and it is not clear how many employees may be based in Mogadishu.

Offices for a permanent diplomatic presence were expected to open in Mogadishu late this year, the first US ambassador to Somalia in a quarter-century told Radio Muqdisho in June.

The US mission did not respond to requests for comment.

The new threat information relates to Mogadishu International Airport, the US statement said Saturday. Several countries have embassies at the heavily fortified airport.

Mogadishu was rocked last month by the country’s worst attack, which killed more than 350 people and has been blamed on the Somalia-based Al Shabab extremist group. Somali intelligence officials have said the massive truck bomb was meant to target the airport but instead detonated in a crowded street after soldiers opened fire and flattened one of the truck’s tires.

Somalia’s small but growing number of Daesh-linked fighters are said to have switched allegiances from the Al Qaida-linked Al Shabab in the past few years.