Somalia: murderous mayhem in Mogadishu market

At least 30 people were killed in fierce fighting between Islamist rebels and Somali government forces in capital Mogadishu’s main market Sept. 23. Rebels reportedly attacked two African Union peacekeeping bases in Mogadishu and shelled the city’s main airport as well as hitting government buildings in the bustling Bakara market area.

On Sept. 19, an AU plane became first aircraft to land at main Mogadishu airport for four days, after Shabab insurgents threatened to shoot down incoming planes. Representatives from the government and Islamist insurgents reportedly delayed a cease-fire they had been due to sign that day in Djibouti, unable to agree on the content of a statement on withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia. Only Uganda and Burundi have contributed troops to the AU peacekeeping force, which has just 2,000 troops of 8,000 planned. (Afrol, Sept. 22)

Terrified residents fled their homes in central Somalia’s Beledweyne Sept. 18, as Islamists and Ethiopian troops exchanged mortar rounds in the town. Insurgents occupied Beledweyne as soon as Ethiopian troops withdrew days earlier, taking over the administration buildings and establishing a camp in the town center—prompting an Ethiopian offensive to re-take the town. (Radio Mareeg, Sept. 18)

See our last posts on Somalia and the Horn of Africa.