In Mogadishu, al Shabaab took credit for yesterday's bombing of a clinic AU forces ran for civilians. Al Shabaab attacked the clinic in an effort to coerce the AU to stop using mortars to attack the Islamic terrorists. Fighting throughout Somalia has, so far this year, sent over 60,000 people fleeing from their homes to escape the violence. Al Shabaab's effort to control all of southern and central Somalia has failed, and the Islamic radical group now has to deal with internal dissent, and attacks from rival militias.
A lot of Islamic radical gunmen appear to have become bored with the religious life. Al Shabaab, and other Islamic radical groups, are having an increasing problem with some of their factions turning into common criminals. It starts with Islamic radical gunmen "taxing" locals for food and other basic supplies. But now some radicals are stealing cash and consumer goods. Islamic radical leaders say they will halt these crimes, but appear unable to do so.
The European Union has agreed to send a hundred trainers to Uganda, where they will spend several months training 2,000 Somali volunteers to be police. This will begin in about four months. The Transitional Government will select the trainees, and the European Union will fly them to Uganda. This sort of thing has failed in the past when the trained personnel returned to Somalia, and were not paid (the money stolen by corrupt officials), thus leading to the trained men getting hired away by warlords or criminal gangs. In any event, the newly trained cops won't be ready until after Summer.
January 25, 2010: In the last two weeks, up in Somaliland, there has been a roadside bombing (that killed four policemen), and someone throwing a grenade at a police station, and someone else fired at police . No one took credit for these attacks, but rival groups are struggling for control of the government.
January 22, 2010: Al Shabaab has again taken control of the border town of Beledweyn (330 kilometers north of Mogadishu), leaving at least ten dead in the process. Local militias up there have sometimes allied themselves with Islamic radical groups, because of disagreements with the government (over the earlier use of Ethiopian troops to chase the Islamic radicals out). The Ethiopians want to force al Shabaab away from the border, to lessen the risk of another invasion by Islamic radical Somalis, and threaten to march into Beledweyn again.
Al Shabaab also retracted a threat, posted on one of their web sites, threatening terror attacks on Kenyan targets, in retaliation for Kenyan police action against Islamic radicals.
January 20, 2010: In the Puntland coastal town of Harardhere, the fighting over a seven million dollar ransom has halted, for the moment. There were several dozen casualties, as rival groups tried to settle their dispute (over how to share the money) with automatic weapons.