government forces on front lines
The Somali government’s offensive through the al-Shabaab stronghold of Bakara Market in the capital Mogadishu looks set to be slowed down by the fear of landmines left behind by retreating insurgent forces.
The peacekeeping mission, known as AMISOM, said in a statement that the southern and western edges of the market, including Wadnaha Road, came under government control on Sunday.
“We have taken the offensive to the extremists and driven them back,” AMISOM Force Commander Nathan Mugisha said in a statement. “The impending removal of the insurgents from Bakara is our main goal, as we place more and more of the city under Government control.”
AMISOM said 22 al-Shabaab fighters had been killed and 40 wounded, while two peacekeepers were killed and five wounded. Al-Shabaab did not give its own casualty figures.
However, AMISOM and government forces are having to move slowly to clear landmines left along the road and in other areas of the market, while market traders are concerned that their livelihoods, already damaged by constant shelling, may be further damaged by the government advance.
The business community’s discontent is in part fuelled by the destruction of houses caused by AMISOM tanks moving through private plots to avoid mined roads. Mohamed Hussein, a trader in Bakara, told Somalia Report that AMISOM tanks had already destroyed parts of the small and semi-permanent buildings in the market, including his own kiosk.
AMISOM has promised to take care in the offensive in order to minimize civilian casualties and damage to property.
TERROR FREE SOMALIA