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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 January 2007, 14:04 GMT
Fears stalk Somalia's capital once again
By Mohamed Olad Hassan
BBC News, Mogadishu

Mohamed Mohamud Hilowle
I need peace; I need a government and I need employment
Mohamed Mohamud Hilowle
Displaced by recent fighting

Life in Mogadishu is still full of fear - the scars of Somalia's 16 year-old anarchy make everybody in the capital suspicious about the future.

There is no reliable security because the streets have become a no-man's land.

The government troops, and the Ethiopians forces who supported them to take the capital from the Islamists, are still confined to a few military compounds.

Periodic gunfire still resounds about the city between various freelance militia and bandits who are taking advantage of the power vacuum.

The troops are concentrating on their own safety rather than that of the entire city.

Unknown gunmen have carried out four hit-and-run attacks against the government troops and their Ethiopian backers in the past two weeks.

At least five people were killed and seven others wounded in the attacks.

'Mad drivers'

Although the real identity of the attackers is unclear, it is widely believed they are the remnants of the Islamic courts' militias or others unhappy with the presence of the Ethiopians.

The main market in Mogadishu
Mogadishu residents are fed up with the warlords

Such random attacks have created fear among the civilians who had enjoyed relative safety under the Islamists' six-month rule.

"Walking in the city at night is a scary one," says bus driver Ali Botan Sa'id.

"Cars drive like mad and there are no traffic rules.

"You can drive in any lane so it's difficult to avoid military vehicles and their possible attackers as you never know where they may appear from."

Mohamed Mohamud Hilowle, a 28-year-old father of two whose family fled the recent fighting around the government base of Baidoa to a displacement camp in Mogadishu, told me his children go for days without food.

"I work with my wheelbarrow to transport goods for people and pay the little money I earn for the food of my family; but for a week I was in bed for malaria and my children were in the streets begging," he says.

Mr Hilowle says his one strong wish is to get a lasting peace so he can send his children to school.

"I need peace; I need a government and I need employment as a labourer to support myself and my family," he says.


Both the interim president and the prime minister are now in Mogadishu attempting to win the confidence of local people, civil society groups and academics.

Mohamud Digsi, a chemist shop owner
These guys thrive on anarchy and will never make peace
Shop owner Mohamud Digsi

They have also met with two former veteran politicians, Abdulkassim Salat Hassan and Ali Mahdi Muhammad, who each have headed failed interim administrations during the civil war.

The advice from one and all is to get Ethiopian troops to withdraw from the country and replace them with African peacekeepers.

Meanwhile, the warlords who terrorised the capital before the rise of the Islamic courts, are back but are getting short shrift from residents who are fed up with them and clamouring for governance.

But many fear that the clan-based warlords could organise themselves again if the lawlessness and insecurity persists.

Roadblocks, where clan militia raise funds by extorting money from hapless motorists, have appeared on roads leading out of the capital.

On Wednesday, police raided one checkpoint and 11 gunmen were captured and remanded to jail.


Mohamud Digsi, who runs a chemist shop, is pessimistic about hopes of reconciliation.


For the government to stamp its authority on the capital, Mogadishu's clan militia need to join the army, which at the moment is mainly composed of soldiers from distrusted northern clans loyal to the president.

But Mr Digsi does not see warlords easily complying to calls for disarmament and army integration.

"These guys thrive on anarchy and will never make peace," he says.

His feelings are also shared by taxi driver Aweis Mohamud.

"Somalia is a nation held hostage by the gun and warlords - and unless real reconciliation is agreed among the various clans there is little chance of success for any government," he says.

No-one is committed to help us. Every Somali is for himself
Businessman Salad Ahmadey

The air attacks carried out in the remote south of the country have also created fear among the ordinary Somalis.

"The US has been silent about what has been going on in Somalia since the failure of the UN-led peace operation in 1995," says Abdu-kadir Abdulle whose relative died in an air strike on Sunday near Ras Kamboni.

"Now it has started bombing our civilians, it is really revenge for the 18 US soldiers killed here," he says, referring to the incident in 1993 when two US helicopters were downed in Mogadishu.

Others do not necessarily interpret the US intervention as revenge, but think it spells an end to any hope of meaningful help from the US to find a lasting peace.

Salad Ahmadey agrees and says the US is only pursuing its "war on terror" and is not really interested in seeing Somalia stand on its own two feet.

"No-one is committed to help us. Every Somali is for himself," the 25-year-old businessman says.

Your comments:

My name is Osman and I have lived in Mogadishu throughout the Somali civil war for the past 16 years. We had relative peace when the Islamic Courts ruled Mogadishu but we all knew it was not going to last because the Courts were not build to make peace but to destroy and disturb the Transitional Government. Now that the fake Courts are out the door, Somalia is at critical cross roads. Some people in Mogadishu are so impatient that they want the government to pacify Mogadishu less than two weeks. I think we need to give more time to the Transition government and have patience. Osman
Osman ALi, Mogadishu, Somalia

Warlords are rejoining and there is no peace whatever in Somalia. The only peace that we had was when the Islamists were in control. The Ethiopian soldiers are in Somalia but get attacked every few minutes.
Omar, Mogdishu

I am really disappointed. I don't know what to do. People of my age in Somalia have no future. They did not go to school because of warlords.
Mohamud Bashir, Nairobi, Kenya

I'm an 18-year old high school student I took most of my time in anarchy except six months of reliable security and free from worry. Now we are in the hands Ethiopia. My mother suggested to me to stop going to school until the security comes. That is great problem because I'll miss some of my last class lessons. I request the international community to look the new colonial period which is damaging my future.
Tahliil Olaad Hassan, Mogadishu

I am a Somali boy called Hassan Ahmed Mohamed Kabirow who was born in Mogadishu in 1980 and I grew up there. I am really, really very sorry for what is going on in my homeland especially in Mogadishu. I grew up with continuous civil war. I had no education except English language. I left in my country in 27/12/2001 because of civil war. And now I am in Cairo. There no homeland if there is no peace and security. Please bring security...
Hassan Ahmed Kabirow, Cairo, Egypt

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