The fight for Mogadishu goes on, as Islamists and warlords fight the recognized government of Somalia for control of the capital. Just weeks after Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia and put the Islamists to flight, they still face heavy fighting, delaying them from transferring control to the Somali government and a peacekeeping force:
The fighting in Somalia’s ruined capital worsened still further yesterday as Ethiopian troops launched a new offensive against areas held by insurgents.
The number of refugees may now have reached 400,000 – more than one third of Mogadishu’s entire population. But Somalia’s internationally recognised government hailed a victory last night and claimed to be in full control of the city.
“We have won the fighting against the insurgents,” said Ali Mohammed Gedi, the prime minister. “The worst of the fighting in the city is now over.”
He added: “We have captured the stronghold of the terrorists. We will capture any terrorists who have escaped.”
The Telegraph reports that heavy artillery fire can still be heard in the city. The new fighting has killed over 350 people. Even more worrisome are reports that over 400,000 citizens of Mogadishu may now be refugees, or almost a third of its inhabitants. That will create a heavy load for humanitarian relief, even if the end of fighting arrives soon.
The Ethiopians are still waiting for African Union troops to replace them. The AU still has not sent the bulk of the troops it pledged. Last month it sent less than 100 advisors, hardly enough to hold a neighborhood in the war-torn capital. The Ethiopians would like to leave, but they do not want to leave a power vacuum.
Will the AU step up, or will Somalia have to rely on its one neighbor for its protection?