Thursday, December 2, 2010

AMISOM captures former interior ministry offices from Al-Shabab.

By Guled Mohamed

December 2, Mogadishu – African Union peacekeepers from Uganda on Thursday captured the former ministry of interior offices from Al-Shabab militants after several days of heavy fighting, AMISOM spokesman Major Ba-Hoku Barigye confirmed.

The interior ministry office is located in Bondere district and is located west of the former Italian embassy building in the Somali capital. This is a significant victory for the AU peacekeepers who have been battling Al-Shabab militants for some times now.

“Our forces have captured the ministry of interior offices from Al-Shabab just now. They are now securing it. Al-Shabab has been attacking the peacekeepers in the last few days and we took this opportunity to expand our areas of responsibility by capturing this important building. We know Al-Shabab deployed 70 women fighters in those areas and one of them was killed. This is all I can say at the moment,” Major Ba-Hoku said.

Al-Shabab, who have a pact with the global jihadist group Al-Qaeda, has been loosing public support in Somalia largely due to their brutal treatment of ordinary Somalis. At least 700 families of displaced farmers and pastoralists have fled into Mogadishu’s Dharkanlay district after Al-Shabab ordered them to pay taxes.

Majority of these families are so poor that they could not afford to pay the taxes Al-Shabab was demanding. They were threatened with a severe punishment and that is why they had to run away to Mogadishu.

There is an interim government in place in Somalia which is struggling to pacify the country with the help of AU peacekeepers from Ugandan and Burundi. Somalia’s last central government was ousted by clan militias in 1991 who plunged the Horn of African country into anarchy.