AMISOM soldiers receiving some help from TFG soldiers managed to move as far as a kilometre early today in some areas of the front line in “North” Mogadishu, which is the eastern part of the city. They moved under the cover of heavy bombardment from just south of Afarta Darjino intersection towards the north to Wadada Sodonka (30th street), reaching as far north as near Towfiq intersection, according to some witnesses. They also moved from their positions near Sinai and Florensa intersections, taking them and effectively controlling a portion of Wadnaha Street. These two intersections were contested before and this is the first time in weeks that one side can claim to fully control them.
A witness who was taking shelter in a concrete building reported that the Shabab were fleeing from the front lines in droves from early morning when the bombardment was most intense. The Shabab then came to the building, rounded up everyone and ordered them to evacuate. No one was allowed to go back in and take their belongings. While this may not be official policy, Shabab fighters are known to harass people around the front lines, mostly suspecting them of being spies. However, this practise negatively affects the perception people have of the Shabab.
By mid-day the AMISOM offensive seemed to have fizzled out, and they appear to have withdrawn from most of the areas they conquered to the north of Afarta Darjino, setting up base in the middle of Suq Bacad market at a building that was the Shabab police station (before that it was a Hizbul Islam station in 2009 and before that a TFG station).
TFG propaganda and Shabab counter propaganda
The TFG commanders were feeding news agencies false news that they had captured areas as far north as the Stadium and as far east as Sanca, which is the next intersection on Wadnaha Street after Afarta Darjino. Shabelle News seems to be still having those stories as facts on its website.
As for the Shabab, they claimed to have pushed back the AMISOM tanks from near Towfiq intersection towards their current position, when in fact the Shabab seemed to be retreating in disarray according to eyewitnesses. They only managed to regain their composure after the advance by AMISOM came to a halt.
Bakara almost encircled
The new positions taken by AMISOM now allow them to siege Bakara market from the east. With all the roads to Bakara now beginning to close, it is just a matter of time before the Shabab will withdraw from the market. Or, they may hold on and withdraw in disarray as they did today from many parts of Suq Bacad market.
If things go as they have been going in the past months, the Shabab are well on track on losing Mogadishu. While such an eventuality may be seen as a major victory for the TFG, it is the best option for Shabab. Having inferior numbers and military hardware, they would best challenge the TFG in an urban guerrilla warfare, as has been put forward by their security department and rumoured to be their next plan, according to some Shabab sources.