Bloodshed in Somalia

A man claiming to be a relative carries a young child who was wounded during clashes between Islamic fighters and government soldiers, as they arrive at Medina hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia, Friday, May 22, 2009.  Renewed fighting between government troops and Islamist insurgents in the Somali capital killed seven people on Friday, residents and an independent radio station said. Residents reported heavy shelling in the heart of the city. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
A man claiming to be a relative carries a young child who was wounded during clashes between Islamic fighters and government soldiers, as they arrive at Medina hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia, Friday, May 22, 2009. Renewed fighting between government troops and Islamist insurgents in the Somali capital killed seven people on Friday, residents and an independent radio station said. Residents reported heavy shelling in the heart of the city. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

MOGADISHU - African Union peacekeepers based in Mogadishu have an acronym for the guerrilla war in Somalia, Vuca, meaning volatile, unpredictable, complex, and ambiguous.

MOGADISHU - African Union peacekeepers based in Mogadishu have an acronym for the guerrilla war in Somalia, Vuca, meaning volatile, unpredictable, complex, and ambiguous.

From a distance they hear echoing blasts of heavy weaponry.

A Mogadishu district is under attack from radical insurgents once again and the Ugandan peacekeepers calmly scan their radio to locate the clashes.

"Here in Mogadishu, it is like that," says major Barigye Bahoku, spokesperson for the African Mission in Somalia (Amisom). "We have a word for that: Vuca".

The Horn of Africa country has been at war for nearly two decades.

Foreign forces and peacekeepers have come and gone but an end to the bloodshed still looks out of reach.

The latest round of bloodletting in the Somali capital kicked off on May 7 when hardline Islamist groups launched a fresh offensive aimed at removing internationally-backed President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

On Friday, Sharif's paltry forces launched an unsuccessful attempt to push back the rebels and a fraction of the cabinet remains holed up in the presidential compound, under Amisom protection.

In a command room, plastered with maps at the Amisom headquarters in Mogadishu, a board lists the "events" of the day.

"At around 2am, insurgents fired three mortar shells at the seaport but missed the target.

"At around 4pm insurgents attacked State House (parliament) from the southern direction using small arms," reads one entry.

General Francis Okello, Amisom's Ugandan top commander in charge of the 4300 troops from Uganda and Burundi deployed gradually over the past two years, argued that violence in Somalia was cyclical.

"It is like a wave in the sea . Since I have been here, it is at least the third wave of violence.

"It goes up, reaches a peak, then it stabilises before coming down again towards a relatively quiet period of time that we never know how long it will last," he said. - Sapa-AFP

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