Somali government battles al Shabaab as famine aid airlifts begin

Troops from Somalia’s transitional government, backed by the African Union, have launched an offensive in Mogadishu against al Shabaab. Today’s fighting comes as emergency famine relief began streaming in via airlift. FSRN’s Mohammed Yusuf reports.

Fighting broke out in the capital Mogadishu hours after the World Food Programme began airlifting supplies into Somalia to feed thirty five thousand malnourished children and more than one million people internally displaced in the country. Abdirahman Omar is the Somalia’s Prime Minister Spokesperson. He says the government is trying to push al Shabaab back from areas settled by the internally displaced people so that aid agencies can operate in a safer environment.

“The offensive is the way of providing safe and secure environment for humanitarian aid agencies. This is the way for us ensuring that we are very serious about the humanitarian issues and we need to do everything in our power to ensure their safety and security.”

There had been a lull in fighting for the past two months, as all parties tried to deal with the moving Somali population hit by drought and famine. But on Wednesday, al Shabaab leaders said they were deploying 2,000 newly-trained forces to Mogadishu, including dozens of suicide bombers. They are threatening renewed attacks during Ramadan, which begins on August 1st.

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