News / Africa

Life Returns to Somali Coastal Town after Al-Shabab Exit

Life Returns to Streets of Somali Coastal Town after Al-Shabab Exiti
|| 0:00:00
X
Gabe Joselow
September 17, 2012 5:38 PM
Since African Union forces took control of the Somali port town of Marka three weeks ago, life is beginning to return to normal. Citizens of the picturesque seaside village, 100 kilometers south of Mogadishu, say they are enjoying more freedom than before, though security remains a challenge.
Gabe Joselow
Since African Union forces took control of the Somali port town of Marka three weeks ago, life is beginning to return to normal.  Citizens of the picturesque seaside village, 100 kilometers south of Mogadishu, say they are enjoying more freedom than before, though security remains a challenge.

AMISON in, Al-Shabab out

African Union forces known as AMISOM faced little resistance when they rolled into Marka late last month.
 
The Al-Shabab Islamist militants, who had controlled the town for four years, had already fled.
 
Marka residents welcome al-Shabab’s exit, ending the harsh version of Islamic law they had imposed on the town.
 
Fahia sells cigarettes outside a mosque. Under al-Shabab, she says, she would have been severely punished for selling tobacco. “You would be caned or imprisoned.  You would be taken to an open field where they would call people and start caning you 20 to 30, counting every lash out loud,” she explained.
 
Al-Shabab had used Marka as a base to launch attacks in the region.  AMISOM recently seized a large cache of weapons from a house belonging to a militant commander.  
 
AMISOM Commander Liutenant Colonel Silver Muhwezi says al-Shabab has been weakened as a military force.  But he says his soldiers have a harder time fighting the small-scale hit-and-run attacks that still take place. “The problem with these guys, I think they have mastered bombs.  Bombs: it is the most dangerous weapon - IED’s [we know] what it is, but insurgency, no no no, my soldiers are good at that one,” he said.
 
AMISOM says there have been at least four grenade attacks targeting soldiers since the militants left Marka.
 
The town was strategically important for Al-Shabab.  Its port served as a major supply route for weapons.
 
AMISOM officials say senior militant commanders, including foreign fighters, would meet in town to discuss operations.  And they had a recruitment center nearby.
 
But as the military pushed in, al-Shabab fighters began to flee.
 
Concerns remain

Former al-Shabab fighter Fathil Ahmed Ali says he decided to defect as the militants' hold in Marka weakened.  “They were using religion to control us. When things started becoming hard for us on the military front, some fighters were fleeing and others were left behind. We didn’t have any medication or food so I decided to come back to my town and work with the government,” Ali explained.
 
Concerns remain that elements of al-Shabab remain mixed in with the population.
 
But District Commissioner Ahmed Maalim Abdi says this is not a serious concern. "There’s not much problem here, there’s so much security around. You have a mix of different forces you have military, police. There are some elements, but there’s no big fear," he said.
 
AMISOM says it is consolidating its forces in Marka before pushing on against al-Shabab fighters.
 
The next big target in the country is the seaside city of Kismayo in the southern part of the country.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

Ali Regained Title in Historic Fight 40 Years Ago

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid