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Government Troops Move on Main Market in Mogadishu
Mogadishu, Somalia, May 25, 2008 - Heavily armed government troops allied with Ethiopian soldiers have begun to move on Somalia's main Bakara market Friday as the islamists patrolling in the market and nearby areas.
Sporadic sounds of gunfire between the two sides could be heard in the vicinity of the market.
The two sides are on the verge of fighting.
The TFG soldiers are watchfully moving ahead to the market from the toll road of " Sayidka" south of Bakara market while other government soldiers moved out from the eastern locale of Hararyale as the islamist fighters went in shield -lines in close proximity to the spots the soldiers came up to.
Also Ethiopian troops departed from the presidential palace have gone towards the market.
Witnesses said that the group of soldiers near Shantaged area south of Bakara market lost two men when suspected islamists hurled hand grenades at them.
Two civilians also injured from stray-fire from the two fired sides while another civilian wounded in a hand grenade was thrown into government soldiers.
Some residents told Shabelle that following the death of the two soldiers that the government soldiers have slowly backed away from there.
The traders of Bakara market have expressed concern over the advance of the government troops to the market because sudden fighting might start in the market if the soldiers move towards the market that may cause the market to grow to be like its original form of ghost and looting by the soldiers and fierce fighting between the government troops and armed islamist fighters.
Armed private security forces established by the traders of the market control Bakara market.
There is huge fear in the market on the prospect of the trading locations because the Bazaar has experienced in the past huge looting by the government soldiers.
The market has had a rest from the previous deadly/injury attacks in the last months after the government troops have been withdrawn from nearby areas and set-up private security forces by the traders those returned calm to the market.
Grenade attacks and occasional landmine explosions have earlier characterised life in Bakara market, the biggest trading centre not only in Mogadishu but also in whole of Somalia.
The strategic Howl-wadaag junction that lies to the east of the marketplace has experienced the worst mayhem, civilian casualties competing with those of combatants.
While the forces of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the supporting Ethiopian troops have been the target, the densely populated neighbourhood absorbed the brunt of the pandemonium. In the last couple of days, things have slid from bad to worse.
Armed with light arms and explosives, insurgents used to attack the forces of the TFG keeping surveillance around the Bakara market. The casualties are in most cases enormous, the TFG forces overpowered with losses of lives and properties.
After huge looting the military operation caused the worst inconvenience Bakara market has ever experienced. Customers, dealers and traders mostly stopped venturing into the bazaars, keeping most of the business premises locked. On such raids, furious soldiers loot goods from the businesses and apprehend people considered suspects. Says Mr Ali Mohamed Siyad alias Ali Dheere, the chairman of the Bakara traders' council: "We have been victimised for the actions of the insurgents."
In response to Mr Dheere's complaints, the Governor of Banadir region (Mogadishu and surrounding areas), Mr Mohamed Omar Habeeb alias Mohamed Dheere told of the traders' complicity with the insurgents.
"These merchants are hiding the insurgents and want the hostilities prolonged in order to avoid tax payments and state regulation of businesses." Mr.Dhere said.
"Each time there is confrontation, more and more business people relocate their interests," said Mr Abshir Qaadiri, a trader who moved his goods out of the troubled market. "People are fast repositioning at other bazaars like Suuq Bacaad in North Mogadishu and Hamar-weyne in the city centre," Mr Qaadiri added.
Source: Shabelle Media Network