Burundian Peacekeepers Killed in Mogadishu
February 23, 2011 6 Comments
Our message to Uganda and Burundi is this: that as long as a single Somali Muslim remains alive on this soil, erase the notion from your hearts that you will be able to conquer this country – whatever might you exert. By the will of Allah this will never happen, for we are a people who will sacrifice our souls in order to defend our religion, our people and our country. We will never allow you to violate our sanctity’
These were the words of Al-Shabab’s spokesman Sheikh Ali mohamoud Rage ‘Ali Dheere’ as he delivered his speech standing beside the corpses of at least 7 Burundian peacekeeper killed by the Islamists in this morning’s deadly battle. Emphatically expressed in a vigorous tone beaming with certitude, the spokesman’s words, along with the gruesome images of blood-stained corpses of the Burundian peacekeepers, were intended to cause revebreations farther away from home. They were intended for an international audience!
In this open-air mortuary of a city, the ghastly images of the peacekeepers’ bruised and half-naked bodies drew a very large crowd as usual. Chanting slogans of ‘Allahu Akbar’ or ‘God is Great’ that electrified the scene, the crowd danced around the corpses in a tumultuous excitement, each person eager to kick , drag or hurl insults at the fallen soldiers. A gloomy sepulchural atmosphere overwhelmed the senses, but with such an uproarious crowd it is often easy to forget that the corpses that lay beside the puddles of blood were once soldiers who, like the thousands of their comrades in Mogadishu, believed with conviction that they were serving a just cause; that they were saviours of the Somali people.
Emotions were irrepresible. Even with the Islamist fighters tightly controlling the crowd, some young men frantically shoved their way towards the corpses and managed to drag them by their feet, scalding their bleeding bodies. Incensed by the peacekeeper’s shelling of densely populated residential areas that claims the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians every month, large crowds of angry citizens, eager to take their revenge, often convene at places where Al-Shabab display the corpses of the Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers.
The Somali government, along with AMISOM troops, are in a battle against time to recapture Mogadishu from the Islamists (Sheikh Sharif’s term expires by August). Along with their Ethiopian counterpart, the Somali government forces launched a grand offensive against the Islamists in the border towns of Beledxaawo (Gedo) and Kalabaydh (Hiiraan) this morning but retreated without making any significant gains on the ground.
In Mogadishu, the battle has entered its fourth consecutive day of intense exchange of gunfire between the Islamists and the western-backed AU/TFG alliance, and both parties have claimed victory. Today’s battle, however, largely concentrated around the old Ministry of Defense headquarters, a strong Al-Shabab base along Mogadishu’s famous Industrial Road, and continued for several hours. The Prime Minister, ‘Farmaajo’ who spoke to the local radio stations earlier this morning claimed that all Al-Shabab fighters have been pushed out of Mogadishu and were fighting from Balacad - a small town about 30 KM North of Mogadishu. By noon, however, the Islamists rebutted the Prime Minister’s ‘ludicrous’ claims and displayed the bloody corpses of several Burindian Peacekeepers, complete in their military attire, to the media.
The Somali population is in a tug of war and is gradually beguiling its days with the hope that a stable nation would soon be built. A far-fetched hope it may seem. The AMISOM forces and the TFG, it appears, have finally began to muster all their strength, but with declining popularity and the majority of the population gradually beginninging to feel a strong aversion towards the AU peacekeepers, their efforts may be fruitless. As for their constant struggle to extirpate the roots of Al-Shabab’s flourighing ideology as well as the Islamists’ burgeoning popularity among the local residents, the AU/TFG have an uphill battle to fight.