Vigilantes patrol Mogadishu streets

The mayor of the Somali capital wants to give the men ID cards and salaries.

    Vigilantes have helped reduce violent
    attacks in some areas of Mogadishu
    The vigilantes have come in handy for the local communities over the past weeks of deadly mortar and artillery exchanges between unknown gunmen and Ethiopian troops.
    Where they are based, they have managed to minimise recurring instances where lives and livelihoods have been ripped apart.
    Road closures


    "We will soon issue them with Identification cards, we will register their guns for them, give them a salary and incorporate them into a force planned for the local government in Mogadishu"

    Mohamud Hassan Ali, Mogadishu's mayor

    Mohammed Abdullahi, a vigilante leader, said his men close the roads at night and search all vehicles thoroughly.


    Abdullahi said: "No insurgent can dare use our area to launch attacks. They would ideally want to, as we are very close to the presidential palace. But we will never allow them."


    The vigilantes also do all sorts of community work, from putting out fires to escorting women through the streets. Even children's services are highly welcome in these groups.


    And if the words of Mohamud Hassan Ali, the town mayor, are anything to go by, the future of Mogadishu's vigilantes looks bright.


    Ali said: "We will soon issue them with identification cards, we will register their guns for them, give them a salary and incorporate them into a force planned for the local government in Mogadishu.


    "Despite the problems facing them, they have done a very good job."


    Divided opinion


    But opinion on the streets of Mogadishu remains divided.


    Opinions are mixed and some feel the
    vigilantes are simply criminals

    One resident, Mustafe, said: "There is nothing called vigilantes. They are a bunch of criminals masquerading as saviours. They are robbing people. They are the same militiamen causing the insecurity. Let the government use its own forces to secure the town instead of relying on such groups and Ethiopian troops."


    Abdullahi Sheikh, a pastry seller in Mogadishu, strongly disagreed.


    Sheikh said: "We have seen increased security in our area since the vigilantes began their work. They have been doing good work. I thank my brothers for their activities and urge them to continue doing so."


    As the violence in Mogadishu increases, many residents are turning to the security the new groups can offer.
    But most agree that it will take more to calm the capital of this volatile nation.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera



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