Weekend fighting in Somalia's capital,
Mogadishu, described by some accounts as the worst in weeks has reportedly
killed 35 people. Mortars
and machine-gun fire reportedly pounded Mogadishu as residents fled the city
Major Barigye Bahoku,
spokesman for the African Union Mission in Somalia told VOA the fighting was between pro-government Islamist fighters and gunmen
seeking to overthrow President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed's new government.
have been some skirmishes in Mogadishu, especially in the northern suburbs and
parts of Mogadishu for about couple days ago. And the information we
have does indicate that the forces of government on the one side and the forces
opposed to the peace process on the other side and the clan militias who can
fall on either side, are the ones who have been involved in these skirmishes,"
said part of AMISOM's assignment is to create the atmosphere for rival Somali
groups to dialogue, but he said there were forces still opposed to peace in
think some people do read it wrongly, the mandate of AMISOM. The mandate of
AMISOM is to let these people talk, but how far can we go to convince all the
sides at any one time to talk. First of all, if lawlessness and the lack of
security in Somalia have been going on for about 19 years, and so even when
some people have seriously taken the peace process on course and they are
talking, there are others who don't fall under the command or control of
anyone…so when you say what is AMISOM doing, yes AMISOM has been trying to
create conditions for all these people to talk. But as everyone knows, not all
the forces have brought on board. There are forces who still opposed to the
process," he said.
said AMISOM could not confirm the 35 people who reportedly were killed from the
weekend fighting because AMISOM has no bases in northern Mogadishu, the center
of the weekend fighting.
AMISOM it's a bit difficult for us to confirm any figures because as you know,
we are in control of about three, four different places in Mogadishu, and these
places that we control, or the places that do house our bases are the only
places that we can surely comfortably make a positive or negative comment
about. So we are not in the northern part of Mogadishu which has been the
center or the focus of the skirmishes for the last few days. And therefore we
cannot conclusively give the exact figures of the casualties," Bahoku said.
said AMISOM has not met and has no reason to meet with opposition figure Sheik
Hassan Dahir Aweys who returned to Mogadishu earlier this month after declaring
his opposition to President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed's new government.
"You see, the role of AMISOM
is not to meet individuals or members of various organizations. The role of
AMISOM on the contrary is to create an environment and possibly give guarantees
where individuals or organizations that would want to join the government or
would want to join the dialogue to do exactly that. And so we as AMISOM on the
ground, we've not been able to talk to Sheik Dahir Aweys," he Bahoku said.
Bahoku said he thinks the
Somali peace process has gained some momentum since President Sheik Sharif
Sheik Ahmed's new government came to power. But he said the problem of
insecurity was still an issue as certain elements were not willing to give the
peace process a chance.