Serious fighting has broken out in Mogadishu. According to international media, the Transitional Federal Government has been planning an offensive to re-take the capital, but it’s unclear who initiated this round.
It’s been difficult to get a clear picture of what’s going on, but I’ve been corresponding with a friend who’s school teacher in Mogadishu. With his permission, I’ve decided to share his emails with you (thought not his name, for safety reasons).
While it’s hard to get a big-picture look at what’s going on, I think his words are a rare insight into what it’s like living in the chaos of Somalia today.
March 11, 2010 Mogadishu 4:59pm
Every one in the city keeps the head to the ground today.
The battles restarted yesterday and they are more deadly and bitter now. Shabab and the other Islamic wing Hisbul Islam waged the war on the bases of the TFG, it’s possible for these Islamist to knock down the barracks of the shaky TFG troops, but when they get close to the presidential palace, they get pushed back by the African peacekeepers at the palace.
The death toll rises to seventy plus ninety wounds. The shells are ear breaking and most people were killed by these shells.
Many people resorted to go and live in skorching sunshine make-shifts outside the city.
Shabab claim to have cuptured and burned Amisom tanks.
My family and are safe now. We are in a big building to shelter from the shells.
The wars are still happening the death toll is sketchy. I’ll drop you a line more about these wars if you don’t mind dear Rachel.
March 11, 2010 Mogadishu 7:08pm
It just seems that things are a bit calm, but more bodies were covered
from a place far from war zone.
I can still hear the wars.
We all hate wars at night time because the whole city is closed at
night and no-one will be able to reach the hospital so people may die
bleeding just like last night.
Although many Somalis believe that the
U.S plan to interfer Mogadishu and help the govenment root out Shabab
will only fuel the tensions. [Read about US involvement at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/06/world/africa/06somalia.html?ref=africa.]
We hope things will change Rachel. Insha Allah.
It’s incredibly tragic to realize that Somalia has been in a state of war, chaos, and near-anarchy for nineteen years now. The country is considered a failed state and at times it is hard to fully understand the meaning of that term.
March 11, 2010 Mogadishu 10:34pm
Things are still calm for the night, but some famlies who displaced
today and didn’t still set up their make-shifts at the camps suffered
alot from heat today and dust and haze tonight. God bless them.
I’m just back to my house. Tomorrow, Insha Allah, i’ll drive my three
young niece and nephews to the IDP. it’s the camps where my mom and
girl friend now live. It’s a little safer than my neighborhood. But
i’m afraid that roads might be closed tomorrow and the battle might
March 12, 2010 Mogadishu 3:50pm
How are you dear Rachel?
There were no more mini buses moving in the city as the wars continue
their third day.
I carried two of my sister’s babies on my shoulders while one grapped
tight my trausers.
I wanted to bring the kids to the camp which is about 20 miles and at
the same time return back to my school in Mogadishu.
As we waited for twenty minutes a bus appeared, i waved and we got
into it safely. I managed to get the kids to the camp and i returned
before the road was closed. When i took my books and walked to the
school, a mortar shell hit one of the school roofs. I felt panic
because some teachers and students were in, but although friday is a
holiday the students were not more only some part-time students were
there, so most classes were empty. Fortunately no one was hurt.
Everyone began to escape, i run again back home.
I felt lucky to be safe.
Many people are still moving from their houses. Hospitals are over
crowded with injuries.
Shabab claim victory of today’s battle, their spokesman tells that
they have takenover areas surrounding the president’s headquarter, and
he adds that they will soon remove theTFG from mogadishu.
Things are just calm, but everyone’s hope for peace is really dead as
the door nail. Roars of gun fire can begin at any time. So we are all
prudent. I’ll write more…
Somali media sources are reporting that both sides have pledged to keep fighting until one side controls the entire city. The government - which has support from the African Union’s AMISOM forces (as well as intelligence and diplomatic support from the US, according to recent reports) - has hinted that a major offensive is on the way.
Previous analyses have stated that, except for the limited AMISOM forces, the government does not have the firepower to take out Al-Shabbab in Mogadishu, let alone the surrounding areas. However, while Al-Shabbab has claimed victory, news reports state that the fighting has mostly been confined to areas that are traditionally Al-Shabbab strongholds.
March 12, 2010 Mogadishu 6:36pm
I’m just back from a tea-shop. A car pulled near by us, two men armed
with pistol and Ak 47 came out of a car and they kidnapped a man next
to my table.
The kidnappers looked like Islamist. I think the kidnapped man was
working indirectly with the TFG. So normally they decapitate such a
Okay, let me answer your question:
I many times considered to leave this city, but the live in the IDP is
also difficult, i chose to stay in the city with many people like me
who insist on remaining in.
Shabab is an extremist militant organization and for sure it’s the
most powerful in Somalia, so it woudn’t take a day for Shabab to
remove the TFG, but the TFG exists under Amisom. Shabab can only be
defeated by a super power.
There are some more clashes in the city this evening…
I wish you a happy travel, Rachel.
With both sides apparently determined to continue fighting, the outcome could have a serious decisive impact on Somalia’s future for the next few years. I’ll try to keep this updated as events unfold.
As of March 14th, Somali media is people fleeing from Mogadishu in droves to the IDP camps that my friend mentions. There hasn’t been much news out in the past few days and I haven’t heard from my friend since Friday.
The TFG recently signed a deal to join forces with a more moderate Islamic militia named Ahlusunnah Wajama’ah and it looks like things have been relatively calm since then. However, according to my friend in Mogadishu, many citizens are skeptical of the ability of this merger to bring real stability to Mogadishu and the surrounding regions.
Here’s his take:
As the matter of fact there is no solution in the short term. There
will only be more deadly wars.
People say, ‘The people in Mogadishu divide in two parties, people who
want to kill other people, and people who want to get killed,’
and this is really true because all innocents are at risk to get
killed by every armed group be it TFG soldiers, Amisom, Shabab
militias or other Islamist.
Specifically in reference to the union between the TFG and Ahlusunnah:
Islamists in Somalia have different vision as well as ideology. For the long history Somalis version of the Islamic religion was based on cultural and moderatism.
Lately we’ve seen a radical version which Shabab imposed on the areas they control. Cross amputation and behading became something simple now.
The portion of the legs and hands amputated hang on some bus-stops you
wouldn’t pass near by untill your eyes catch that portions of hand and leg.
The shaky TFG is engaging in talks to attract moderate Islamist who can contribute militias to help flash out Shabab.
The government and the moderate Islamist Ahlusunnah Wajama’ah signed their John Hancock over night unanimously to join Ahlussunah to the TFG. Ahlusunnah controls vast territory in the central Somali regions, they went in to bitter fights with Alshabab and they managed to defend Shabab from their areas.
Ahlusunnah is armed, trained and backed by the neighboring Ethiopian regime.
However, people in Mogadishu don’t think that this peace deal will
bring any change.
We’ll wait to see what comes out of these deal.
With no current resolution to the fighting, it’s unclear what the implications of this escalation will be for Somalia. For the moment, things seem to be in limbo, but I will update this if the situation changes