MOGADISHU, Somalia Apr 29 (Garowe Online) -
Days after Somalia’s transitional government claimed victory over insurgents, residents in the battered capital Mogadishu got a much needed break from the incessant sounds of explosions and gunfire from the past week.
Witnesses said traffic police were patrolling the capital’s streets on Sunday, an encouraging sign that normality was gradually returning to the city.
Vital roads that interconnect Mogadishu’s various districts were reopened for public use, residents said.
Hundreds of refugee families who fled the 8 days of battles between Ethiopia-backed government troops and a loose coalition of Islamist insurgents and clan militias were seen returning to their homes.
The government encouraged the refugees to return home but Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi warned the returning families to stay away from government buildings, some of which were previously used as shelter homes.
Elders in some of Mogadishu's worst-hit neighborhoods in the northern part of town requested that the government remove heavy military hardware and explosive ordinances from residential areas, according to independent sources.
The elders fear that the ordinances might be dangerous for returning families. Government spokespeople were not immediately available for comment.
Observers say the Somali transitional government is trying to effectively assert its influence across Mogadishu and to not lose momentum.
Earlier today, government troops detained six suspects dressed in official military uniform who are accused of collecting extortion money from unwary civilians.
Prime Minister Gedi said that the suspects are remnants of the Islamic Courts movement bent on creating insecurity in Mogadishu.
Col. Abdi Qeybdiid, the new national police chief, met with business owners yesterday in Mogadishu. Sources at the meeting said Qeybdiid ordered the businesses to register their weapons with the government within 36 hours or face legal action.
Aid agencies estimate that some 1,000 people died in Mogadishu earlier this month as battles raged. Upwards of 320,000 civilians fled the war-scarred Somali capital, according to the UN.
Somalia’s UN-recognized government was created in 2004 following conclusive peace talks in neighboring Kenya. This government is the 14th attempt to restore central governance in Mogadishu since civil war broke out in 1991.
Garowe Online News