Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


AU forces intensify attack on Somali rebels

23 May 2012, 11:31

 Mogadishu - African Union and Somali government troops stepped up their assault on al-Shabaab militants in the capital's northern outskirts on Wednesday, forcing hundreds of families to flee their makeshift homes and head for the city centre.

The AU force, which already controls most of the capital, is trying to advance through the Afgoye corridor, once a rural area northwest of Mogadishu but now home to hundreds of thousands of Somalis uprooted from their homes.

The corridor, believed to house the largest concentration of internally displaced people in the world, stretches some 30km northwest of Mogadishu to the al Shabaab stronghold of Afgoye.

The AU force began its advance on Tuesday and seized part of Tre Disho village, 13km from the capital.

Burundian troops with the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) were advancing from Tre Disho towards Elasha and Afgoye on Wednesday but were meeting resistance from al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab militants, their spokesperson Captain Ndayiragije Come said.

"We want to capture Elasha and if not delayed by resistance we shall capture Afgoye. We captured two anti-aircraft guns hooked on cars and destroyed one yesterday. We also see about 40 bloated dead bodies of al-Shabaab lying under the shrubs. They were killed in yesterday's battle," he said.

Al-Shabaab has waged a bloody five-year campaign to topple Somalia's Western-backed government and impose its harsh interpretation of sharia, Islamic law, on a country that has been mired in violence for the last two decades.

It still controls swathes of central and southern Somalia but is being gradually squeezed out of its strongholds by Kenyan and Ethiopian troops who have launched their own incursions into Somalia, and is being pushed out of Mogadishu by AU forces.

Civilians fleeing the fighting hoped to find safety in central Mogadishu. "We fled with the children early in the morning," Farhia Aden, a mother of two, told Reuters in Bakara market. "We couldn't stay there because shells were landing and bullets were buzzing around us."

"People are panicked ... we had no time to take all our things," she added.

Road blocked

Another resident, Hussein Farah, said he had seen many rebels aboard vehicles, some with machineguns on their shoulders.

"It may take time for the government to control that area," he said at the Ex-Control checkpoint where Somali soldiers stopped his family from entering the capital.

Somali police officer Captain Ahmed Nour said government forces had blocked the road because they did not want civilians to get caught in the shooting.

"There is military movement along the road. Many families have already come in and we shall give access to the remaining ones later when we reopen the checkpoint," he said.

The African Union has said that by securing the Afgoye corridor it would give some 400 000 people access to aid.

Al Shabaab could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, but on Tuesday the group said its fighters had killed about 30 soldiers.

It is difficult to verify either side's estimates of casualties, which are often exaggerated.

A Reuters witness, at an airstrip in Mogadishu where the offensive was launched, said he had seen two dead Somali soldiers and two wounded Burundian ones on Tuesday.

- Reuters


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...