Somalia claims insurgents driven from Mogadishu

2011-08-06 08:42

The Somali government this morning claimed it had driven al-Shabaab militants out of the capital, Mogadishu, after overnight fighting.

“This is a golden opportunity for Somalis to see for the first time in 20 years that their government is under full control in Mogadishu,” government spokesperson Abdirahman Omar Osman told the German news agency, dpa, early this morning.

If the Western-backed Somali government were to retain its hold on Mogadishu it would be a significant step forward for a regime that has for large parts of its existence barely controlled the city, much less the rest of the country.

However, al-Shabaab remained defiant in the face of this morning’s announcement.

In remarks broadcast by Radio Quran, IQK, al-Shabaab spokesperson Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage said: “I promise all Somalis that we have changed our tactics and, for the coming hours, we will teach them (the state) unforgettable lessons.

We have changed our tactics – that is why we withdrew from Mogadishu – and we will redouble our attacks against them.”

Osman told dpa that the latest developments began after al-Shabaab forces launched an attack on government forces overnight as troops were cracking down on the militia.

Somalia has not had a government exercising control over its whole territory since a 1991 civil war. The current government was formed in 2009 after a peace deal between warring factions. But al-Shabaab, an extremist group with ties to al-Qaeda, almost immediately began trying to destabilise the new government in order to create a more Islamist society.

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