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Somali police forces have begun replacing African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) and Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces at AMISOM bases and checkpoints in Mogadishu, the embattled capital of Somalia.
Somali Police Spokesman Colonel Abullahi Hassan Barise told Somalia Report that the police took control of more than four AMISOM bases on Monday after the peacekeepers repositioned to Mogadishu’s frontlines.
AMISOM and TFG forces have made significant progress against al-Shabaab insurgents in recent weeks and are now controlling 13 out of 16 districts in Mogadishu. In addition, the pro-government forces are controlling three of four sides of the Mogadishu’s main market, Bakara, which is believed to be the main source funding for the al-Qaeda linked militants.
“AMISOM withdrew from KM4, Guriga Shaqalaha, Isgoyska Dabka and the whole of Makka Almukara road,” said Colonel Abdullahi Hassan Barise. "AMISOM and the Somali army are repositioned to the newly captured areas in Mogadishu."
These locations are considered strategic for government forces, and military personnel are worried that al-Shabaab may attack the areas with suicide bombers.
Makka Almukara is one of Mogadishu’s busiest roads that connects the Somali presidential palace and Aden Adde Airport. Al-shabaab used to throw grenades and plant mines on the road, but it has been secure since AMISOM took control of it.
“Inside government controlled areas may become another front because the police are not well-trained and sometimes are not serious with their work,” warned a military veteran who spoke to Somalia Report on the condition of anonymity.
However, Mr. Barise noted that the Somali police have finished plans to establish police posts in the all TFG controlled areas and to reduce the presence of military forces in public and residential areas.
A Defense ministry spokesperson told Somalia Report on the condition of anonymity that the government has planned to increase the police presence in the city while the military will remain only on the frontlines.
He noted that soldiers who are not on duty are banned to carry arms in the city as part of their strategy to make the city safer.