Somalia Defense Minister says Forces taking control

Prof. Maxamuud Cabdi gandi1

Halkaan ka akhri

BUJUMBURA, Somalia (AFP)–Somalia’s defense minister claimed Tuesday that his forces were taking control in Mogadishu and repelling a month-old offensive by insurgents bent on toppling the transitional administration.

“We presently have the situation well under control and we have enough soldiers to hold on and repel the extremist aggression on the country,” Defence Minister Mohammed Abdi Gandi said at a press conference in Bujumbura.

“There were violent clashes yesterday (Monday) in Mogadishu and we ousted opposition fighters from the Shebab and Hezb al-Islamiya,” said Gandi, on a visit to Burundi, one of two countries contributing to the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia.

The minister claimed that 14 out of 16 neighborhoods in the seaside Somali capital were now under government control. “That means we are making progress,” he said.

His report could not be independently confirmed.

Fighting also took place on Tuesday and killed five people, including three civilians, according to witnesses.

More than 200 people have been killed and 70,000 displaced in the month-old fighting.

While hardline Islamist insurgents had initially looked on the brink of ousting President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed from his last redoubt in Mogadishu, the rebellion has looked unable to make a final and decisive push.

Backed by African peacekeepers securing the presidential palace, as well as the seaport and the airport, Somali government forces launched a counter- offensive almost two weeks ago and regained some ground.

A lawless country of around 10 million, Somalia has had no effective central authority since former president Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991, setting off a bloody cycle of violence.

Source:     AFP

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