Business, Finance & Economics

AU claims Al Shabaab pushed out of Mogadishu


Troops of the Ugandan contingent of the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia (AMISOM) at a frontline position near the Mogadishu stadium on October 4, 2011. The AMISOM troops recently captured key Mogadishu territory from Al Shabaab, the Somali Islamic extremists that are allied with Al Qaeda. African Union and Somali government forces on October 10, 2011 seized yet more strategic positions from Islamist insurgents in an offensive to flush out last pockets of rebellion in Mogadishu.


Tony Karumba

NAIROBI, Kenya — Somalia’s Al Shabaab Islamist rebels withdrew from Mogadishu in August and earlier this month made good on a threat to launch guerrilla attacks when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the deadliest single bombing of the four-year long insurgency.

In response to the bombing, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and government troops launched an offensive this week to clear Al Shabaab out of its last strongholds in the north of the capital.

The Ugandan commander of AMISOM claims the assault was successful and that Al Shabaab has been evicted from Mogadishu altogether.

“We control the whole of Mogadishu,” General Fred Mugisha told the BBC.

An AMISOM spokesman said the 9,000-strong force had suffered only one fatality and six injuries during the offensive and had secured the last remaining Al Shabaab holdouts.

According to reports at least eight civilians also died in the fighting while 20 were wounded.

One rebel official claimed that rather than being defeated Al Shabaab had in fact lured AMISOM into “a trap planned earlier so that they spread out their troops” too thinly across the city.

With Al Shabaab on the back foot Mogadishu appears to be safer and more secure than in years but officials admit that defending against suicide bombings like the one last week is almost impossible.