A Mogadishu Morning: Guns and Grenades

Militiaman Fires a Heavy Machine Gun

I woke up to the sounds of heavy gunfire this morning, and so did the residents of Mogadishu. Though at times peaceful, unexpected battles take place at Mogadishu’s front lines. This morning the forces of Harakat Al-Shabaab Al Mujahideen launched a surprise attack on the defences of the government troops. After a heavy exchange of gunfire in a battle that lasted an hour or so, the local radio stations reported that Al-Shabaab have taken over Shibis district headquaters – one of the main strongholds of the TFG.

By conceding defeat in this district also to the Shabaab, the government now retains only 3 districts under its control; namely, Xamar Weyne, Xamar Jajab, Wadajir – that is three districts out of the total of 18! They are also present in the district of Shangani but do not control the whole district.

Since the government’s announcement of a major offensive, Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam, the two Islamist groups confronting the feeble TFG, have been gradually advancing towards the Presidential Palace – which is now merely a few hundred metres from where the battle took place this morning – and the government troops seem to be extremely unsuccessful in keeping their grounds, let alone regaining lost territory. Now they are all cornered into a few blocks and the sea is behind them. A few weeks ago they launched an offensive, accompanied by Ugandan tanks, but failed miserably in their attempt and retreated with a wounded pride and morale as Al-Shabaab took over Global Hotel, a very strategic location in Cabdicaziiz district.

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Maxamad Dheere: An Incompetent Appointee


Imagine that a stray bullet, one of the thousands that constantly whiz past you in this deadly city, dislodged itself in your mother’s heart. Quite a normal thing, considering the situation we are in. So you quickly rush her to hospital, hoping that she stays alive at least until you reach there. You put her on the stretcher expecting that the doctor, assessing the severity of the situation, would instantaneously drag her into the theatre for that life saving operation. But no – you are told, instead, to pay upfront the operation cost, the admin fees as well as extra for the services of the handlers; all this while she profusely bleeds beside you. You came in a rush and were perhaps a little too traumatized to remember bringing some sacks of money along with you, so throw yourself at the compassion of the doctors. You march restlessly to and fro pleading with them and promising them that you will bring the money. ‘Just begin the operation please, I will go and get the money,’ you scream but to no avail. The doctor informs you that the hospital operates under the instructions of the governor and he has laid down these rules.

You stare on despairingly as your mother convulses with agony on the stretcher, her blood gently dripping onto the concrete. Her listless body begins to deteriorate as life slowly seeps out of it; her face gradually loses colour and her eyes fade away against her pallid features. Only a few meters away from the operating theatre, she breathes her last as you look on helplessly.

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Helicopter Shot Down in Marka

Black Hawk

There are reports circulating in Mogadishu that an American helicopter (not still verified) has been shot down in Marka in the past hour. The local radio stations have reported that the helicopter was seen plummeting into the ocean in flames. A number of witnesses have been interviewed and all of them seem to have observed the event.

Helicopters flying over the open skies of Somalia are not a new phenomenon. For the past few weeks several helicopters have been spotted flying  above Barawe. In one incident Al-Shabaab fighters opened fire at some of the helicopters and they simply retreated without firing back. Marka, an ancient city, on the South Eastern coast of Somalia, is also said to have witnessed several helicopters flying above its skyline. But this episode seems to have ended miserably for the pilots.

Await further updates.

AMISOM: Peacekeepers or Warmongers?



AMISOM troops

Despite the much perpetuated myth of AMISOM’s (African Union Mission in Somalia) so-called peacekeeping mission in the media, the situation on the ground here significantly differs from what we were used to hearing. Skim through the international dailies or the countless number of websites and you might read lines that conjure up images of heroic Ugandan and Burundi soldiers courageously defending the teetering government from the Islamist advancement.

It sounds plausible, perhaps even a little moving too, if you were a middle-aged Liverpudlian civil servant that is. But the reality, as I have recently come to realise, is quite different. Much like the Ethiopians before them, the AMISOM forces have earned for themselves the vengeful wrath of the local population. Ingrained in the hearts of the residents here is not a warm admiration for the Ugandans and Burundis, as well as the TFG, but rather a strong feeling of hate and dislike, particularly in the Bakaara Market.

In their attempt to bolster the fragile government’s authority, the AMISOM forces have been involved in almost a daily shelling campaign of Mogadishu’s residents. Hardly a day passes by in Mogadishu without hearing the sound of missiles and mortars being fired into crowded residential or shopping areas.

While walking in the crowded Bakara market, Mogadishu’s business hub, I heard the sound of a mortar that had just landed some blocks away. I have come to learn the different sounds of guns here in Mogadishu because of their constant use.

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Welcome to Mogadishu!

Mogadishu

Welcome to Mogadishu: The beautiful coastal city that now lies under ruin. The debris that piles up on the roads of this old city speaks of long-suffered misery and desperation. The few remaining blocks of concrete that hold these dilapidated buildings peculiarly erect depict the grim realities of war. For long the suffering of the victims of Somalia’s endless war disturbed our ears. The wails of the weak and oppressed pierced our hearts and wounded our consciousness; but without much of a first-hand account of events and without witnessing the blood-drenched clothes of the elderly as they scamper to safety, away from the mortar rounds, or the screams of amputated children as they scream beside their dead parents, it became difficult to fathom the pain they went through. The bleak winds of war have swept much of this city, as well as the country, into a perpetual abyss of obscurity.

Forgotten and forsaken, the people of Somalia endured years of neglect, torment and hardships, yet they are still surprisingly optimistic. They have shown exceptional resilience in the face of adversity over the decades and remain optimistic despite their depressing tales and troublesome times: a rare quality among the nomads on these shores. And today, that optimism has partly come to materialise in unexpected ways!

It may have been my unusual love for adventure or my attempt to discover the truth that led me to this bullet-battered city, but most of all, it is to reveal to the world the events of Mogadishu from the ground.

What you will find on this blog is up-to-date first-hand accounts of the events in Mogadishu as they unfold.

Welcome to Mogadishu Man.

Let the world hear the plight of Mogadishu!

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