Forces belonging to the U.S.- and U.N.-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Somalia have mobilized for a major offensive against Islamic militants who control much of southern and central Somalia. On Friday, a local journalist who spoke with World Politics Review reported seeing government forces, as well as peacekeepers from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), preparing for battle.
"In the last 24 hours, we have seen many convoys, including tanks from the AMISOM bases," reported the journalist, who requested anonymity to protect him from Islamist reprisal. "I can see the logistics [convoys] of AMISOM troops going through the city -- especially around their bases." He added that he also saw TFG troops deploying north of Mogadishu, in areas of the city dominated by al-Shabab, an Islamic group that in recent years has aligned itself with al-Qaida, particularly the terrorist network's Yemeni branch.
In the last year, the 5,000-strong AMISOM contingent has assumed a more active role in Somalia's civil war. Ugandan tanks and mortars provide heavy firepower for the peacekeepers and the TFG. Exchanges of mortar and gunfire between al-Shabab and pro-government forces killed more than 250 Somali civilians in January, according to the U.N., making it the bloodiest month since August for the war-torn country.