TFG/AMISOM Reassure Bakara Traders, Urge Extremists to Leave Market

Mogadishu, 02 June, 2011

The Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, jointly with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), have assured the business community in Mogadishu of their commitment to the protection of lives, livelihoods and property within Bakara Market.

In recent weeks, Somali government forces, supported by AMISOM troops, have undertaken military operations to bolster security in areas surrounding the market and to eliminate the threat to the population posed by Al Qaida linked extremist insurgents within it.

“Securing Bakara Market itself remains one of our top priorities, since the insurgents use it as a base from which to launch attacks against the population and our forces in other parts of the city, while hiding behind women and children within it,” said TFG Defense Minister, Abdihakim Mohamoud Haji-Faqi. “They also extort from businesses in the market to fund their brutal terrorist campaign against the Somali people.”

“We have no interest in interfering with the legitimate business operations within the market. On the contrary, we wish to facilitate normal trade by eliminating the predations of the extremists and reopening the roads which they have kept closed to business and civilian traffic,” he added, saying the government was keen to see normal business resume at the Market once the extremists had left.

AMISOM Chief of Staff, Col. Innocent Oula, made clear that the joint forces were doing their best to avoid a confrontation within the Market, which is the Somali capital’s main commercial hub.  “While our joint forces are indeed close to the market, we have left a clear route open to the extremists to withdraw. We urge them to take advantage of this and spare the Somali people any more suffering,” he said.

“What happens now is in their hands. If they refuse to leave, however, we will be left with no option other than to force them out,” he said adding that “any plans to do so will be undertaken with the greatest care to ensure minimal harm and damage to lives and property.”

AMISOM and government forces are closing in on the strategic market from 3 directions, leaving an escape route to the north-east open to the militants. The AU force has also designated Bakara a no-fire zone for its artillery and mortar units.

ENDS–
Paddy Ankunda
Major
AMISOM Force Spokesman