Somalia: Al-Shabaab Imposes Blockade On Baidoa Town in Somalia

Mogadishu — Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has condemned the militant group al-Shabab for imposing a weeklong blockade on the southwestern town of Baidoa. Authorities say the Islamist group has cut off supplies in and out of the area, worsening hunger caused by record drought and insecurity.

Al-Shabaab set up the blockade Tuesday, cutting off transport to and from Baidoa, the capital of South West state.

The blockade, which comes ahead of a planned government military offensive in the region, has affected businesses and resulted in price hikes as vehicles transporting goods from towns such as Mogadishu are stranded.

Hussein Mohamud, the chief of staff for Somalia’s president, said the blockade demonstrates that al-Shabab is at war against the people of Somalia.

Mohamed Edin, a trader in Baidoa, told VOA businesses will soon be forced to close as supplies dwindle.

He said he relies on supplies from Mogadishu that pass through Afgoye but his business has suffered since the blockade. With his stock nearly depleted, Edin said he might be forced to close his business if the blockade continues.

According to the United Nations, Baidoa is home to about 600,000 internally displaced people pushed from their homes by the al-Shabab insurgency and drought.

Analysts say by imposing the blockade, al-Shabab is affirming its strength and that could worsen the situation in the region.