Somali government controls Mogadishu for first time in five years

Famine conditions in Somalia continue unabated today, as thousands of residents flee to Kenya looking for help. But as the famine ravages the country, the government seems to be making progress towards political stability. Last weekend, the Islamist group al Shabaab made the surprise announcement that it would withdraw from the capital Mogadishu. Today government forces, backed by African Union troops, have been taking control of areas left by the militants. FSRN’s Mohammed Yusuf has that story.

Somalia’s internationally recognized government is in full control of Mogadishu for the first time in five years. Al Shabaab announced a tactical retreat after several days of fighting with government forces.

But Mogadishu is far from safe. Some pockets of al Shabaab fighters north of the city are apparently hiding in private homes and harassing pro-government forces. The insurgents are expected to rely more on urban guerrilla tactics with the use of ambushes and suicide bombers predicted to rise. The African Union is pushing for more troops to stabilize the city, according to spokesperson Paddy Ankunda.

“The area is too big for the soldiers that we have at the moment, for Mogadishu we want additional of three thousand soldiers at least.”

Mogadishu residents say winning over the local population with strong security and good governance will be the key for the government to hold onto the capital. Analysts say the success of the government depends on how it handles its own troops, who have been accused of robbery, killings, and human rights violations. Today, the Somali President said the government would continue to pursue militants outside the capital. Mohammed Yusuf, FSRN.

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