A Mogadishu Morning: Guns and Grenades
March 31, 2010 Leave a comment
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.
It all seems like a joke with a bunch of clowns appointed as presidents and ministers who have never been able to deliver anything to the Somali population.
It does not seem unusual: hearing the rattle of gunfire every morning I mean. It has become part of life and people here seem to have adapted fairly well. Today people went about their businesses and everything was running smoothly. The people of Mogadishu have become experts at assessing imminent danger, so when you see them walking about as if nothing had happened even though you hear the guns blazing in the background, then assume that everything is alright.
Simply hearing the loud bangs of bullets and mortars is not considered danger here, but when one lands near you or a bullet flies past your ear, or spills the brain of your companion on the floor, then you have a cause for concern. Other than that it is all distant fireworks. The battle was a few kilometres away but the noises were frighteningly near. So when I heard the deafening noises of heavy guns being exchanged, I began to worry. A natural reaction in an unnatural place. I listened attentively and waited for the bang of the mortar to land or pierce through the walls of my room, but there were none.
A little later everything resumed to normal; normal as in expect fireworks to begin any moment!