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Somali Government tells foreign firms to pay taxes or face consequences

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The Finance Minister of the Federal Government of Somalia has warned foreign firms operating in Halane, the African Union camp in Mogadishu who have been evading taxes at all costs.

The Ministry on Thursday announced new strict rules on taxation on 157 firms, mostly foreign-owned ad sheltered by African Union.

The ministry estimates the country loses billions of dollars as the 157 companies evaded taxes by hiding under humanitarian cover.

In a meeting with the CEOs and managers of the firms, officials from the ministers of finance, air transportation, trade and departments of taxes and security were given instructions of the rules of the taxation.

The ministry warned the 157 firms, among them are supplies and logistics companies contracted by United Nations and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) who never cleared taxes.

“We have evidence of importation of goods and commodities into the country without payment of taxes or under disguise of taxes relief. We have warned them. This is unacceptable.” Said Finance Minister Adirahman Dualeh Beyleh.

Alongside the Minister was the Deputy Minister Hayir Ibrahim who noted that nobody was above the law.

“Any firm or entity found breaching our taxes laws will be held accountable.” he added.

Goods and commodities into the country without payment of taxes or under disguise of taxes relief.
The move was not new the ears of Somalis. Years ago, former Mogadishu Mayor blasted the invasion of foreign companies and employees into the country by hiding under AMISOM and United Nations and taking over jobs locals could do.

The invasion of the foreign workers and contracted agents resulted unneeded competition against Somali-owned businesses and jobs bringing another burden to the economy, a move the government now says wants to tackle.

Somali News

US-backed Somalia commandos kill 4 al-Shabab extremists

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MOGADISHU, Somalia — Somali and U.S. commandos stormed a camp for al-Shabab extremist fighters in an overnight raid, killing at least four of the fighters and rescuing child conscripts, a Somali intelligence official said Friday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said special forces raided the camp in Jame’o village in Middle Shabelle region. A local commander was among those killed, he said.

A second official confirmed the raid, which was carried out with the support of helicopters that later evacuated the young recruits.

Human Rights Watch earlier in the week accused al-Shabab of the forced recruitment of hundreds of children in recent months. The recruitment of children is a long-standing practice of the al-Qaida-linked group which faces growing military pressure across south and central Somalia.

It was not immediately clear how many children were rescued during the overnight raid.

Also on Friday, the U.S. military said it had carried out an airstrike in Somalia that killed four members of the al-Shabab extremist group.

A statement from the U.S. Africa Command said the strike was carried out Thursday about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of the port city of Kismayo. The statement said no civilians were killed.

The U.S. military carried out more than 30 drone strikes last year in the long-chaotic Horn of Africa nation after President Donald Trump approved expanded military efforts against al-Shabab.

The extremist group was blamed for the October truck bombing in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, that killed 512 people. Thursday’s U.S. airstrike was the first since one early this month that killed two al-Shabab extremists and destroyed a vehicle carrying explosives, “preventing it from being used against the people in Mogadishu.”

Last year, Somalia’s Somali-American president vowed that his government would drive the extremist group out of the country.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Briefing Room

UPDATE: Somali authorities say troops rescue 32 children from “terrorist school”

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MOGADISHU, Jan 19 (Reuters) – Somali authorities said troops stormed a school run by al Shabaab on Thursday night and rescued 32 children who had been taken as recruits by the Islamist militant group.

“The 32 children are safe and the government is looking after them. It is unfortunate that terrorists are recruiting children to their twisted ideology,” Abdirahman Omar Osman, information minister for the Somali federal government, told Reuters on Friday.

“It showed how desperate the terrorists are, as they are losing the war and people are rejecting terror.”

Al Shabaab said government forces, accompanied by drones, had attacked the school in Middle Shabelle region. It said four children and a teacher were killed.

The Somali government said no children were killed in the rescue.

“They kidnapped the rest of the students,” said Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s military spokesman.

“Human Rights Watch is responsible for the deaths of the students and their teacher because it pointed fingers at them,” he added.

In a report this week, the New York-based rights group said that since September 2017, al Shabaab had ordered village elders, teachers in Islamic religious schools, and rural communities to hand over hundreds of children as young as eight.

The U.S. Africa Command said it had carried out an air strike on Thursday against al Shabaab targets 50 km (30 miles) northwest of Somalia’s port city of Kismayo, killing four militants. U.S. forces regularly launch such aerial assaults.

The al Shabaab militia, linked to al Qaeda, is fighting to topple the U.N.-backed Somali government and establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islam’s sharia law.

Somalia has been plagued by conflict since the early 1990s, when clan-based warlords overthrew authoritarian ruler Mohamed Siad Barre then turned on each other.

In recent years, regional administrations headed by the Mogadishu-based federal government have emerged, and African Union peacekeepers supporting Somali troops have gradually clawed back territory from the Islamist insurgents.

(Additional reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Writing by Clement Uwiringiyimana; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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Somali News

Somali Army Reports Killing 7 al-Shabab Militants

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The Somalia national army killed at least seven al-Shabab militants Thursday and destroyed their base during an operation in southern Somalia, officials and residents said.

Somali army General Ismail Sahardid, the 43rd Infantry Division commander, told VOA Somali that the forces took control of Bar-Sanguni town, 45 kilometers (28 miles) south of the coastal city of Kismayo.

“Our army launched a surprise attack on the militants’ hideouts late Wednesday and continued pursing them since the early hours of Thursday,” Sahardid said. “During the operation we killed seven of the militants, including local leaders of al-Shabab’s Amniyat unit, responsible for the group’s intelligence.”

The general said that despite initial resistance, his forces destroyed several of the militants’ bases and vehicles they have been using to transport fighters, and they recovered ammunition.

“We have inflicted heavy military losses on them and captured two of their vehicles mounted with anti-aircraft machine guns,” Sahardid said.

Bar-Sanguni residents who spoke to VOA Somali on condition of anonymity said they heard explosions as government soldiers engaged in a gunbattle with the militants for several hours early Thursday.

“It was around just before dawn Thursday morning when the Somali army entered the town. We first heard a fierce exchange of heavy gunfire and explosions,” one resident said.

“As the day wore on, we saw government soldiers taking strategic positions in the town and searching the al-Shabab military bases, with seven dead bodies of the militants lying in the streets,” another resident said.

Bar-Sanguni, under al-Shabab control for many years, is where the militant group has been organizing guerrilla attacks against government soldiers and Kenyan troops serving under the African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) in Jubaland state.

Tax on residents

Sahardid said the militants in this area have been imposing zakat, or a tax, on the local population.

“We have freed the local civilians who have been suffering under the militants’ harsh control, where they have been extorting their money and their livestock through what they call zakat,” said Sahardid.

The operation came as Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Michael Keating, U.N. special representative for Somalia, hailed the completion of a power-sharing agreement signed in December between Galmudug state and the Ahlu Sunna Waljama’a.

Ahlu Sunna is a moderate group that was founded to promote Sufi Islam in Somalia, which decided years ago to take up arms against the radical al-Shabab group, which is believed to be linked al-Qaida.

In an event held Thursday in the central Somali town of Dhuusa Marreeb — attended by Somalia federal and regional leaders and foreign diplomats — Galmudug state President Ahmed Duale Ghelle “Xaaf” and Ahlu Sunna leader Sheikh Shakir vowed to join forces in the fight against al-Shabab.

Under the power-sharing agreement, Sheikh Shakir will be the executive leader of Galmudug state.

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