October 9, 2012:
Al Shabaab is gone from Kismayo and the Somali coast in general. But many towns in villages in the interior of central and southern Somalia are still controlled by them. This control is more a matter of terror than numbers. The garrisons of many towns are small but any resistance will bring reinforcements and a savage response by the Islamic terrorists. Most villages are controlled by clan militias who are tenuously allied, via terror or self-interest, with al Shabaab. As the strength of al Shabaab declines, so does their ability to terrorize these rural parts of Somalia. Over the last year many al Shabaab fleeing the Kenyan advance from the south and peacekeepers pushing out from Mogadishu ended up in the southwestern Gedo region (along the Ethiopian and Kenyan border). With the loss of Kismayo the number of al Shabaab in Gedo is believed to have reached 4,000 or more. Gedo is thinly populated forests. There is good cover from air observation but not much else. Supplies and new recruits are in short supply and these al Shabaab have to turn to banditry just to survive. The al Shabaab forces in this area will lose more men to desertion but will put up a fight if peacekeepers move in.
Some 20,000 civilians that fled Kismayo before the AU attack in late September are beginning to return. There was some looting when al Shabaab men fled last week and AU forces fought with some armed groups inside the city. But that was quickly over. It is feared that some al Shabaab men have stayed in the city in order to carry out terror attacks.
October 8, 2012: Al Shabaab banned aid group Islamic Relief from areas the terrorist groups control. Islamic Relief was accused of working with the UN, which handles persuading nations to donate food for starving Somalis. Al Shabaab banned UN aid operations earlier. Because al Shabaab had already banned Western aid groups, Islamic Relief has become the only source of food aid for 1.3 million Somalis. Al Shabaab doesn't mind seeing people die because of decisions like this because al Shabaab believes everything is "God's Will."
October 7, 2012: AU (African Union) peacekeepers seized the town of Wanla Weyn, which is 90 kilometers northwest of Mogadishu on the road to Baidoa (which is another 160 kilometers away). Wanla Weyn fell without a fight, the al Shabaab gunmen fleeing rather than risk all being killed by a larger and better trained force. The peacekeepers will continue pushing up the road. The big problem is getting local clans to form defense groups for towns al Shabaab has been chased out of. The locals don't want to fight al Shabaab, who are fanatic and vicious and not reluctant to kill women and children.
October 6, 2012: Al Shabaab attacked the southwestern (Gedo) town of Garbaharey and was repulsed, losing over a dozen dead and wounded.
October 4, 2012: Al Shabaab released a video featuring a French intelligence agent captured three years ago. Two French agents were captured back then but one soon escaped. France announced that it might be forced to use commandos if al Shabaab did not release the other one but apparently the French could never get accurate information on where the agent was being held. The French commandos have, on several occasions, killed Somali pirates and freed hostages. But this was four years ago and Somalis with guns are pretty cocky and usually have to be killed rather than intimidated. The French commandos have also captured Somali pirates and put them on trial, and this has annoyed groups like al Shabaab. The French will not pay ransom or release terrorists to free French kidnap victims. Al Shabaab has not given up on this, however.
October 2, 2012: Five bombs went off in Kismayo, killing two people.
October 1, 2012: AU and Somali troops seized most of central Kismayo, including the police station. Outside the city the airport was occupied.
September 30, 2012: Kenyan warships shelled positions in Kismayo still held by al Shabaab. This apparently persuaded the remaining terrorists to get out of town.
In Kenya someone threw a grenade into a church in the Nairobi suburbs, killing a child and wounding three others. No one took responsibility but pro-al Shabaab Somalis were suspected. Hours later two policemen were killed on the Somali border. All this is believed in reaction to the al Shabaab loss of Kismayo.
September 29, 2012: There are still plenty of armed men in Kismayo. They are either al Shabaab men on their way out or outlaws seeking to make the most of the chaos. Peacekeepers, local clan militias, and Somali troops are slowly moving in. Al Shabaab threatened to leave booby traps behind and these are being searched for.