Somalia News: Bumps on the road to a peaceful Mogadishu


A photo taken on January 19, 2012 shows Somalis displaced by famine at an IDP camps near Adan Ade airport, in the capital Mogadishu. Surveying Somalia's war-torn and dangerous capital from his office, the commander of the African Union force here Fred Mugisha is optimistic: '98 percent of Mogadishu is free.'


Tony Karumba

NAIROBI, Kenya — A car bomb that killed perhaps 15 people outside a hotel favored by government officials in Mogadishu on Wednesday underscores, yet again, how dangerous the city is. Or does it?

More from GlobalPost: Car bomb kills 11, injures 2 Somali politicians

Yes, it shows that Islamist militants can still strike in the heart of the government-controlled part of the city, but this attack killed mostly civilians, hotel workers, and tea sellers. Compare that with an attack on the same hotel in 2010, when a squad of armed suicide attackers went room-to-room executing government workers. By the time they blew themselves up they'd killed 32 people, including as many as 11 lawmakers.

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In Mogadishu this is progress.

United Nations diplomats and Somali government officials will have you believe the city is 99 percent under control and is now safe and free. The foreigners who say such things tend to be wearing a flak jacket and travelling in an armored personnel carrier. But leaving aside the hyperbole, there is a calm in Mogadishu that has not been seen in nearly six years. That peace is fragile, recent, and occasionally under attack; but it is there nonetheless, despite Al Shabaab's headline-grabbing assaults.

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