AMISOM’s Offensive Backfires
July 29, 2011 2 Comments
As the unrelenting famine sweeps across the country, AMISOM forces have launched a ‘concerted offensive’ against the Islamists controlling most of Southern Somalia. The operation was, according to the Press Release I’ve received from Paddy Ankunda, the AMISOM force spokesman, to increase security for IDP camps in TFG controlled areas:
“Following a period of sustained provocation from al Shabaab, our troops have dealt with specific security threats in a short tactical offensive operation. This action will further increase security in the TFG controlled areas of Mogadishu and ensure that aid agencies can continue to operate and get vital supplies to internally displaced persons.”
But after witnessing the events of yesterday as well as the battles that raged on until this noon, the threat has not been contained or dealt with and the security situation in the IDP camps, and Mogadishu in general, still remains rather volatile and precarious. It is safe to say that the Somali government soldiers who have been implicated in a series of shootings and severe cases of systematic rape in the IDP camps alone poses the greatest danger to the famine-stricken civilians, let alone the Islamist onslaught.
AMISOM, on their part, usually furnish the media, through press releases and well-orchestrated press conferences held inside the fortified base and only through invitations, with an immaculate portrayal of events here in Mogadishu. But war, as I’ve come to learn, is not always as it is portrayed in the media. War is grim. War is bloody. War is all but nice. In the ‘concerted offensive’ they’ve launched early Thursday morning, AMISOM forces have, according to Al-Shabab, lost 7 soldiers – from the Ugandan contingent and ‘stray’ mortars are said to have accidentally killed more than 30 TFG troops. This morning the Islamists paraded the slain soldiers as well as a cache of weapons in front of the ravenous eyes of the media.
But with the eruption of war and the exchange of barrages of artillery, too comes the hail of mortars and rockets. Following the massive bombardment of residential areas, particularly the Bakara market, by the AMISOM forces in the recent months, more than a half of Mogadishu’s residents have been displaced and much of the capital city today remains empty. The bombardment since yesterday brings the death toll to about 43, while the injured exceed 100.
Mogadishu’s media has become another intensive battleground too – with pro-government websites and radio stations constantly uploading new pictures of areas allegedly taken over by the joint AMISOM-TFG coalition or broadcasting vociferous reports of victory and triumph. Similarly, the pro-Al-Shabaab websites, as well as the Islamists’ wide array of radio stations and TV channel, regularly depict their version of events with images, videos and live reports from the front lines of the battleground.
The mounting death toll in the city only further exacerbates the misery of the war-and-famine-stricken population.