Sunday, June 5, 2011
By Abdulkadir Khalif & John Njoroge
Posted Sunday, June 5 2011
The Damanyo military camp, popularly known as Shirkole Ofishiale, is now under the control of Somali Government Forces and African Union (AU) peacekeepers, the AMISOM force said yesterday.
Damanyo was the only remaining al-Shabaab outpost west of the Somali capital Mogadishu and has been a major supply route for the extremists.
This came as President Museveni on Thursday announced that he saw no reason in keeping Ugandan troops as peacekeepers in chaotic Somalia unless the Traditional Federal Institution (TFI) is given an extension not exceeding one year.
This, he said, would allow the TFI to complete unfinished transitional tasks. He was officiating the opening session of the Somalia International Contact Group (ICG) meeting in Munyonyo, Kampala. The proposal had earlier been made by the Somali Cabinet ministers in order to clear the pending transitional tasks.
AMISOM’s Chief of Staff Innocent Oula yesterday said the captured route will soon be reopened to civilian traffic once a mopping up operations has been concluded.
“This gives the Somali government full control over Terebunka Road, a major city artery which leads north from the bustling K4 junction to Industrial Road, as well as western access routes to the famous Bakara Market, the city’s commercial hub,” Col. Oula said.
The Burundian AMISOM contingent has been at the forefront in pushing insurgents out of their positions along the Terebunka Road.
Just last month, the Ugandan contingent and TFG took control of Wadnaha Road, another major al-Shabaab supply route which runs westwards along the southern edge of Bakara Market.
Since February, AMISOM and Somali government forces have been closing in on Bakara Market from three directions. The AU has also declared a no-fire zone over Bakara to facilitate its artillery and mortar units. An escape route to the north-east of Bakara has been open to allow innocent civilians to flee.
Even as Mr Museveni’s position was endorsed by many influential groups in Mogadishu on Friday, others said they preferred to have an election held for the posts of the president, the speaker of the house and the two deputies and an extension of three years granted to the parliament. Somali MPs in Nairobi, Kenya rejected Museveni’s position and accused him of being bias. In a meeting organised by civil society organisations, traditional clan elders, women activists and religious leaders from Majma’ al-Ulima’(the confederation of the religious persons), participants expressed their resolve to support Mr Museveni.
Sheikh Ahmed Abdi Dhisso, the chairman of Majma’ al-Ulima’, said President Museveni’s speech was pleasing for many security conscious Somalis.
The capture of Shirkole Ofishiale is already tilting the balance in the campaign to capture Bakara Market. Civilian access to Bakara Market will significantly ease once the extremists within the market have been flashed out.
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