Bruised by war, Mogadishu slowly reawakens

Wed Aug 24, 2011 5:24am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Abdi Sheikh

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Their life's belongings piled on donkeys, Somali families weave along alleys filled with the corpses of starved animals to return to their bullet-ridden homes.

After four years of war, Mogadishu bears the signs of a city slowly rising from the ruins of war.

Gunfire, bombs and mortars had punctured the coastal city almost everyday as Western-backed government forces and African Union troops fought an insurgency by the Islamist al Shabaab rebel group.

But earlier this month, the al Qaeda-inspired militants -- outgunned and divided -- withdrew nearly all their combatants from their bases in the capital and Somalis woke to what they say they hope will be an extended period of calm.

"I led a dog's life for the last two years," said Liban Abdulle who was forced to flee his home and shop in Abdiaziz, a once thriving Mogadishu district near the water-front.

Al Shabaab overran the neighborhood in 2008, as it did elsewhere in Mogadishu, turning it into a battlefield, digging tunnels and trenches and commandeering people's homes.

Abdulle fled to Elasha on the outskirts of Mogadishu, one of several towns where tens of thousands of displaced Somalis settled.

"I have now returned to my former home. The house was looted and destroyed. But I am happy, my cousin sent me $400 to revive my shop. Business is good and people have returned," he said.   Continued...

<p>Somali women walk past a destroyed building, a result of a four-year insurgency which has killed tens of thousands of people, in Kaaran district, south of the capital Mogadishu August 23, 2011. REUTERS/Feisal Omar</p>