There have been serious clashes between Somali government forces and Islamist militants. And the fighting has left at least 17 people dead and about 60 wounded in the capital Mogadishu. The fighting appears to be the start of a government offensive using troops trained in Ethiopia, analysts say. The government controls only a few parts of the country.
The government troops are trying to quash Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda-inspired group that control much of southern Somalia. As well as Ethiopia – which officially withdrew from Somalia’s conflict in early 2009 – Uganda is also believed to be training Somali soldiers ahead of the current offensive.
The U.S. administration has provided funding and logistical support. Reports suggest the operation has been successful in taking back key districts in the north of Mogadishu – near the presidential palace – from the militants. However many civilians are thought to be among the dead. According to a government official, the Somali government forces advanced on the terrorists’ strongholds and they took control of several neighbourhoods which had been held by the rebels.
This is a big victory for the transitional government that has been battling insurgency in the country for some time now. And it is equally a big blow for Al-Shabaab who may have lost hundreds of their fighters in the process.
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