Union peacekeepers are patrolling Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, for the first
time since they arrived in March.
Uganda has sent 1,600 peacekeepers who are meant to replace Ethiopian soldiers
invited in by the interim government to suppress Islamist forces opposing
The AU troops were mostly confined to the airport while the city saw some
of the fiercest fighting in 15 years.
More than 1,000 people were killed and thousands
more have fled the city.
« As we move forward, we will be doing active patrolling, protecting government
institutions and preparing an environment for a humanitarian delivery, »
said the spokesman for the AU mission, Capt Paddy Ankunda.
The commander of the African Union peacekeepers, Gen Edward Wamala said there
was a degree of security in Mogadishu now.
But he said the fighting had left a looming humanitarian crisis, with thousands
of people in need of food and water.
Local human rights groups say at least 1,300 people have been killed over
the past two months.
Islamist fighters and clan militias battled government forces backed
by Ethiopian troops for control of Mogadishu starting in February.
The increasingly violent clashes saw machine guns, mortars and artillery
fired indiscriminately in residential areas.
The government declared victory on Saturday and some residents have begun
returning to the city.
The Union of Islamic Courts took control of Mogadishu last June.
They in turn were ousted last December by government troops backed up by the
Ethiopians but started mounting counter-attacks soon after.
The Ethiopians want to withdraw to be replaced
by AU peacekeepers but only 1,600 of the planned 8,000 have arrived.
Somalia has not had an effective national government for 16 years.