Fighting is once again picking up in southern and central Somalia today, with the African Union reporting that it has attacked a number of towns around the capital city of Mogadishu in an attempt to put those towns under the control of the self-proclaimed government. No casualty figures are yet available, and the fighting is ongoing.
Virtually all of Somalia is outside of the control of the “government,” which has direct control over only a portion of the capital and also claims some nominal presence across the rest of the city. The attacks are targeting al-Shabaab, a militant faction resisting their expansion.
Ethiopia’s US-backed ground troops are also getting more heavily involved in the fighting across the area, with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi promising that his troops are going to “increase the onslaught” against al-Shabaab.
Ethiopia first invaded Somalia in 2006, occupying most of the nation’s major cities in an attempt to impose a government on them. Al-Shabaab was created to resist the Ethiopian occupation, and the group continued to grow until Ethiopia declared “victory” and fled in December 2008. Ethiopian troops have reinvaded in smaller numbers several times since then.