It has taken just a matter of days for Ethiopian and Somali government forces to reach Mogadishu. The Islamists have fled but now uncertainty reigns. The Somali capital is one of the world’s most dangerous cities. Amid outbreaks of looting and gunfire, residents fear that anarchy may return.
There were reassuring words from Ethiopia’s prime minister Meles Zenawi.
“We will help the transitional government to do whatever it can to make sure that Mogadishu is stabilised quickly.”
“At most it will be a few weeks, hopefully just a matter of days before we leave.”
After taking the strategic town of Jowhar,
Somali government forces and their Ethiopian allies entered the capital held by the Union of Islamic Courts for the last six months.
In that time, a semblance of stability had returned to Mogadishu. But Islamists and some residents say order has collapsed with their departure.
Hundreds have been killed and injured in the combat. The Red Cross has expressed concern for civilians caught up in the fighting.
The bloodshed could be far from over. While Christian-led Ethiopia has one of Africa’s most effective armies, the Islamists are not admitting defeat. They say their withdrawal from the capital is merely a tactical move – depicting the conflict as a holy war against “crusaders”.