|Join Our Mailing List|
President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed on Saturday toured the new frontlines in Mogadishu's Hodan district seized yesterday by the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces amid tight security for fear of a reprisal attack from al-Shabaab insurgents.
The president, dressed in full combat gear, was accompanied by Defense Minister Abdihakim Hajji Fiqi and the State Minister in the office of the President, Abdikadir Maalim Noor, as they toured all the bases seized yesterday.
President Sharif arrived in Hodan in an AMISOM vehicle and was welcomed by the Burundi contingent which controls the area.
"I congratulate these commendable men who are doing all their best to see Somalia free from al-Shabaab control," said the president. "These men have done a commendable job and it is clear to the whole world that the AMISOM forces are progressing and I commend this improvement."
The president and his delegation toured the newly acquired African Village buildings, Sheikh Ali Suffi mosque, as well as the 'Tarabunka’ (a meeting point for the former government officials of the 1991 collapsed Siad Barre regime). He last visited the building in December 2006 when his group, the Islamic Courts Union, came under attack from the Ethiopian forces.
The president called on the Somali people to come out in large numbers and support the forces initiative and help in eliminating the enemy of the people.
"You can see clearly the progress made in the offensive that we launched in March and it is now clear that the forces are ready for Somalia re-liberation," he said.
President Sharif also praised the Somali national forces on their consecutive victories in southern parts of the country and inside the capital.
“We are congratulating Somali National forces And African Union Peace keeping forces on their continues victories over the war, day after day. I’m sending condolence messages to relatives of dead soldiers among government forces and I’m begging Allah for a quick recovery the injured soldiers,” said the president.
“The fight will be continue until we will remove terrorist group of al-shabaab and their foreign allies. We are urging the government soldiers to keep discipline and not harm civilians living the city,” urged the president.
“Thanks to Allah, as you see this is Sheikh Ali Sufi Mosque where the terrorists were controlling the last two years, but now AMISOM and TFG forces seized it yesterday,” he said.
President's Tour a Morale Booster for Troops
Somali Military Commander Abdikarim Yusu Adan "Degabadaan" said that the presence of the Somali president on the frontlines has boosted the morale of the troops who are on the verge of retaking the total control of Bakara Market, in an interview with Somalia Report.
"His presence in the Hodan and Howlwadag is a clear sign that the president is a true national hero. The forces are ready to fight now more than ever after the latest successful offensives," said General Degabadan.
The general also explained that plans are underway to restore business in Bakara Market.
"The Defense Minister, the National Security Minister and I met with the business community of Bakara Market and planned the way forward but I can’t reveal the details because they are critical at this stage," explained General Degabadan told Somalia Report correspondent in Mogadishu.
The general confirmed to Somalia Report that he lost seven men in the offensive and three others are nursing bullet wounds.
This is the third time Somali president has joined frontlines in less than a month. His previous visit was to see the military bases captured from al-shabaab in Warshadaha Street last month.
TFG Taking Control of Mogadishu
Somali troops have made a significant development in the latest clashes in Mogadishu and are currently controlling 13 out of 16 districts in the capital, Somali Minister of Information Abdukarim Jama said during a press conference at the Somali Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya on Friday.
“Government forces have control of most of the neighborhoods of the Bakara Market, with three of four sides of the market under their direct control,” Jama said.
Jama explained that government is undertaking a maximum effort to minimize civilian casualties in the war zones.
“So far we have been successful in not allowing the entrance of many people in Bakara market, which will help to endure that so that there is no unexpected outcome from collateral damage should more fighting break out,” the minister added.
He claimed that government forces, backed by AMISOM troops, have been made a significant progress towards the fighting against the al Qaeda inspired group al-Shabaab.
“We have information that, increasingly, al-Shabaab are moving their assets, men and equipment out of Mogadishu and even other localities near the capital,” Jama noted.