A soldier checks the area where a suicide bomber from Somalia's Al Shebaab insurgents killed at least 12 people and wounded 27 others, on Sept. 8, 2014, by ramming a vehicle packed with explosives into a convoy of African Union troops in Mogadishu.
Credit: Mohamed Abdiwahab

GlobalPost’s Tristan McConnell went back to Somalia this month to see how a recent African Union and Somali army offensive against Al Shabaab militants has gone, and to find out what’s changed in the capital, Mogadishu.

As a highlights reel, here are 10 photos that tell you something about what’s going on in Somalia today. For more photographs check out Tristan's Instagram feed, and for more from the trip, see his report on Somali refugees who've given up chasing their dreams in Kenya. 
 

1. The Ugandan army has surveillance drones. They’re not very big.


(Tristan McConnell via Instagram)
 

2. In the short term, at least, after a town is captured from Al Shabaab things get worse for the people: trade stops, schools close and the hospital shuts down.


(Tristan McConnell via Instagram)
 

3. Al Shabaab fighters have a childlike fascination with naïve, violent graffiti.


(Tristan McConnell via Instagram)
 

4. Lower Shabelle is fertile. Yes, there was a famine in parts of Somalia in 2011, but that doesn’t mean the whole place is a desert.


(Tristan McConnell via Instagram)
 

5. It’s always the shortest guy who carries the biggest gun.


(Tristan McConnell via Instagram)
 

6. Low altitude helicopter rides are fun.


(Tristan McConnell via Instagram)


7. Some parts of the capital are rebuilding, fast, but others retain a blasted beauty.


(Tristan McConnell via Instagram)
 

8. One thing to thank Italian colonialists for is the ready availability of a good espresso.


(Tristan McConnell via Instagram)
 

9. Night raids on suspected Al Shabaab cells in the capital happen with surprising frequency.


(Tristan McConnell via Instagram)
 

10. Foreign visitors to Mogadishu are still well advised to hire some security.


Like this team, hired by GlobalPost. (Tristan McConnell via Instagram)

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