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The Horror of War - Somalia
Lafole, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
16 Apr 2015

A Medic sees the fireball followed by thick billowing smoke from a helicopter heading south from Mogadishu. As she calls it in the incident has already been reported to HQ and an AMISOM Quick Reaction Force has been mobilized. The convoy moves aggressively through the congested streets of Mogadishu heading out of the capital towards Lafole 20 kilometres away. We reach the site of the incident 50 minutes after an Al Shabaab operative detonated his car bomb. The suicide bomber was targeting an AMISOM Armoured Personnel Carrier, which was scorched and incapacitated, but otherwise fine, and all the passengers could exit the vehicle by own means. This was, however, not the case for the two civilian minibuses located on the other side of the car bomb as it detonated. When we arrive the wrecks of the two busses are still smoldering, while cans of food litter the surrounding area some having exploded spilling their mangy content due to the intense heat. One mini bus has been sent 20 meters off the road by the explosion and is left as a burning wreck, while the charred bodies and interior continue to smolder. Next to the bus lies the remains of a woman, whose white teeth are clearly visible in the charred face, as she lies half covered in car parts with her hands up to protect her face. At her feet lies another body, this one of a man whose skin has been burned clear off lying entangled in the remains of the bus half way out of the passenger cabin. Inside the cabin are the remains of at least six people of which at least four were children. The remains are too small to be adults. In the back of the burned out bus sits the remains of a child, where only the top of the torso is left. The top of the skull has been sawn clean off and lies below the seat. Another body lies on a seat and consists of a very small skull and a small pile of ashes. A third is nothing but a charred skeleton entangled with the remains of the interior of the bus. The smell of burned meat and rubber is heavy and sickening and lingers over the entire area. A bit of charred meat and bloody clothes lie on the ground some 30 meters away. Back on the road the other bus is left a short distance down the road. The bus was mostly hit from behind and was luckily not a passenger bus, but carried provisions. Next to it lies the remains of the suicide bombers vehicle, which by now is nothing more than unrecognizable junk. Spectators move about and inspect the scene of destruction. Death fascinates. The body of the woman outside of the first bus is photographed and inspected. An older Somali man uses his cane to point out the remains of a child to another man. Others stand around and watch. Covering their noses and mouths to avoid the stench. More photos are taken. Some take selfies. I photograph it all. The spectacle is terribly and tragic. At least 12 were killed and 27 injured. All civilians. Statistics in the real world.

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Somalia: Routing Al-Shabab 08
Mogadishu
By Noe Falk Nielsen
08 Sep 2014

A Somali soldier stands in front of one of two minibuses that were hit by a suicide car bomb (VBIED) 20Km outside of Mogadishu on 9 September 2014.

12 civilians were killed and 27 wounded. Despite being weakened, Al Shabab were still able to carry out ambushes and attacks using improvised explosive devices (IEDs). These would often hit military targets, but would end up killing and maiming scores of civilians. Al Shabab displayed a blatant disregard for civilian casualties in their fight agains AMISOM/the government.

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The horror of War - Somalia 1
Lafole, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
08 Sep 2014

On 8 September 2014 a car bomb tore through two civilian mini busses in the course of an attack on an AMISOM convoy some 20 Ks outside of Mogadishu. 12 were killed and 27 wounded, all civilians and mostly children.

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The horror of War - Somalia 2
Lafole, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
08 Sep 2014

On 8 September 2014 a car bomb tore through two civilian mini busses in the course of an attack on an AMISOM convoy some 20 Ks outside of Mogadishu. 12 were killed and 27 wounded, all civilians and mostly children.

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The horror of War - Somalia 3
Lafole, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
08 Sep 2014

On 8 September 2014 a car bomb tore through two civilian mini busses in the course of an attack on an AMISOM convoy some 20 Ks outside of Mogadishu. 12 were killed and 27 wounded, all civilians and mostly children.

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The horror of War - Somalia 4
Lafole, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
08 Sep 2014

On 8 September 2014 a car bomb tore through two civilian mini busses in the course of an attack on an AMISOM convoy some 20 Ks outside of Mogadishu. 12 were killed and 27 wounded, all civilians and mostly children.

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The horror of War - Somalia 5
Lafole, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
08 Sep 2014

On 8 September 2014 a car bomb tore through two civilian mini busses in the course of an attack on an AMISOM convoy some 20 Ks outside of Mogadishu. 12 were killed and 27 wounded, all civilians and mostly children.

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The horror of War - Somalia 6
Lafole, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
08 Sep 2014

On 8 September 2014 a car bomb tore through two civilian mini busses in the course of an attack on an AMISOM convoy some 20 Ks outside of Mogadishu. 12 were killed and 27 wounded, all civilians and mostly children.

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The horror of War - Somalia 7
Lafole, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
08 Sep 2014

On 8 September 2014 a car bomb tore through two civilian mini busses in the course of an attack on an AMISOM convoy some 20 Ks outside of Mogadishu. 12 were killed and 27 wounded, all civilians and mostly children.

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The horror of War - Somalia 8
Lafole, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
08 Sep 2014

On 8 September 2014 a car bomb tore through two civilian mini busses in the course of an attack on an AMISOM convoy some 20 Ks outside of Mogadishu. 12 were killed and 27 wounded, all civilians and mostly children.

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The horror of War - Somalia 9
Lafole, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
08 Sep 2014

On 8 September 2014 a car bomb tore through two civilian mini busses in the course of an attack on an AMISOM convoy some 20 Ks outside of Mogadishu. 12 were killed and 27 wounded, all civilians and mostly children.

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Somalia: Routing Al-Shabab
Mogadishu
By Noe Falk Nielsen
31 Aug 2014

2011-2014

These photos profile the efforts over the past years of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) to route Al-Shabab from its strongholds in Somalia.
Beginning with a large offensive in 2011, aimed at ending Al-Shabab rule in Somalia, Mogadishu was quickly retaken. Since then, AMISOM forces were able to steadily push Al-Shabab militants out of the outlying areas under their control.
In the summer and fall of 2014, AMISOM launched Operation Indian Ocean, which was another offensive aimed at eradicating pockets of Al-Shabab fighters still stationed in the Somali countryside. 

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Somalia: Routing Al-Shabab 07
Mogadishu
By Noe Falk Nielsen
31 Aug 2014

Soldiers from UPDF 62 battalion sit in a Casspir Armoured Personnel Carrier on the way to join in the attack on KurtunWaraay on 31 August 2014. Somalia is big and mobility is key to AMISOM's ability to reclaim Al Shabaab controlled territory. Offensives thus involved a variety of armored personnel carriers to allow for movement of troops.

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Somalia: Routing Al-Shabab 11
Beled Amin
By Noe Falk Nielsen
29 Aug 2014

Ugandan AMISOM soldier guarding the outer perimeter at the forward operating base in Beled Amin during Operation Indian Ocean on 29 August 2014.

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Somalia: Routing Al-Shabab 06
Mogadishu
By Noe Falk Nielsen
29 Aug 2014

As Al Shabaab lost their footholds around Mogadishu, and forces from other countries joined AMISOM, Somalia was carved up in sectors, each under control of an AMISOM contingent. Here a Ugandan Army colonel stands in front of his tank battalion in preparation for Operation Indian Ocean to reclaim the cities of Bulo Marer, Kurtunwaraay and eventually Barawe, in Lower Shabelle. 29 August 2014.

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Somalia: Routing Al-Shabab 12
Mogadishu
By Noe Falk Nielsen
29 Jan 2013

The head of a suicide bomber, who blew himself up outside of State House, the seat of the government, in Mogadishu on 29 January 2013.

NOTE: GRAPHIC IMAGE

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Somalia: Routing Al-Shabab 04
Arabiska
By Noe Falk Nielsen
24 May 2012

A Ugandan T55 tank sits on the ridge overlooking Afgoye, during Operation Free Shabelle on 24 May 2012. Having superior fire power and a willingness to accept casualties, the Ugandan People's Defense Forces, supported by the Burundian National Defense Forces slowly pushed Al Shabab out of the capital and subsequently the regional population centers.

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Somalia: Routing Al-Shabab 05
Arabiska
By Noe Falk Nielsen
24 May 2012

By May 2012, the Somali National Army was showing signs of coherence and the 6th Brigade fought alongside the Ugandan Army as the African Union Mission to Somalia captured the strategic city of Afgoye. The offensive was the first proper move out of Mogadishu and into Al Shabab's heartland. 24 May 2012.

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Somalia: Routing Al-Shabab 09
Mogadishu
By Noe Falk Nielsen
22 May 2012

Dead Al Shabaab fighter in the bush during Operation Free Shabelle to take the town of Afgoye on 23 May 2011.

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Life in Mogadishu 17
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
11 May 2012

Food was often scarce in Mogadishu and fishermen brought in their catch of the day to be sold at the local fish market. Here a Somali fisherman carrying a large tuna to the fish market in Mogadishu on 11 May 2012.

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Life in Mogadishu 18
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
11 May 2012

Food was often scarce in Mogadishu and fishermen brought in their catch of the day to be sold at the local fish market. Here a shark lies on a street in Mogadishu, dropped by a fisherman on his way with the catch of the day to the fishmarket on 11 May 2012.

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Life in Mogadishu 19
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
11 May 2012

Food was often scarce in Mogadishu and fishermen brought in their catch of the day to be sold at the local fish market. Here a Somali fisherman carrying a large tuna to the fish market in Mogadishu on 11 May 2012.

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Life in Mogadishu 12
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
17 Apr 2012

Access to medical care was increasingly scarce in the war torn Somali capital and costly, if not provided from the few international organisations that worked in Somalia. Here a pharmacy and the pharmasists at Martini hospital in Mogadishu on 17 April 2012.

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Life in Mogadishu 13
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
17 Apr 2012

Access to medical care was increasingly scarce in the war torn Somali capital and costly, if not provided from the few international organisations that worked in Somalia. Medical orderly showing his storage room at Martini hospital in Mogadishu on 17 April 2012.

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Life in Mogadishu 10
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
04 Apr 2012

The fierce fighting the crowded areas of Mogadishu resulted in thousands of collateral victims. Here a young Somali boy being diagnosed with a destroyed eye due to a grenade fragment at a mobile clinic in Mogadishu on 4 April 2012.

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Life in Mogadishu 11
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
04 Apr 2012

Access to medical care was increasingly scarce in the war torn Somali capital and when free health care was offered people were keen to take advantage. Here a young girl and her mother await access a mobile clinic in Mogadishu 4 April 2012.

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Somalia: Routing Al-Shabab 01
Mogadishu
By Noe Falk Nielsen
26 Mar 2012

Here a Somali warlord-turned-general relaxes with his entourage at a divisional HQ in Mogadishu on 26 March 2012. The Somali National Army was still in its infancy when the anti-Al-Shabab offensive began. The Army was initially comprised of little more than four pro-government clan militias loosely working together.

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Life in Mogadishu 16
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
21 Feb 2012

Food was often scarce in Mogadishu and fishermen brought in their catch of the day to be sold at the local fish market. Here a Somali fisherman carrying a hammerhead shark to the fish market in Mogadishu on 21 February 2012.

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Life in Mogadishu 20
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
16 Feb 2012

As Al Shabaab was slowly being pushed out of the city, the Somalis commenced the reconstruction of their battered capital. Here local Somalis are working to rebuild parts of the old harbour in Mogadishu on 16 February 2012.

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Life in Mogadishu 21
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
16 Feb 2012

As Al Shabaab was slowly being pushed out of the city, the Somalis commenced the reconstruction of their battered capital. Here local Somalis are working to rebuild parts of the old harbour in Mogadishu on 16 February 2012.

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The Somali National Army in the Somal...
Mogadishu
By Noe Falk Nielsen
01 Jan 2012

The Somali National Army - A far cry from the Somali Army of the Cold War often referred to as the Lion of Africa - has slowly emerged from the civil war as a somewhat coherent fighting force in the past few years capable of supporting and participating in various AMISOM offensives. When AMISOM deployed in Somalia in the spring of 2007 the Somali National Army was little more than clan militias loosely bound together with the aim of countering the threat of Al Shabaab and protect and preserve the Transitional Federal Government and its institutions. Since Al Shabaab in the autumn of 2010 tried and failed in the attempt to push the Transitional Federal Government and AMISOM into the sea, the Somali National Army has slowly evolved into the present fighting force capable of fighting Al Shabaab on their own terms. The development has been hampered by clan interests, lack of weaponry and training, but international efforts and an acceptance of common goals among the contributing clans have by now established it as a major actor in the rebuilding of the Somali State, but the road has been long and ardous.

The present compilation of pictures depicts the Somali National Army from training via deployment in the capital to actual participating in combat and the possible outcome.  

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Life in Mogadishu 06
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
20 Dec 2011

Life in the middle of a civil war caused constant suffering for the civilians. Here an injured Somali child receiving treatment at the Medina Hospital in the western part of Mogadishu on 20 December 2011.

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Life in Mogadishu 07
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
20 Dec 2011

Life in the middle of a civil war caused constant suffering for the civilians. Here an injured Somali man and his family receiving treatment at the Medina Hospital in the western part of Mogadishu on 20 December 2011.

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Somalia: Routing Al-Shabab 03
Mogadishu
By Noe Falk Nielsen
18 Nov 2011

The Somali Army soldiers were underfed, undertrained, under-equipped and often addicted to khat/mirra. Here a Somali soldier high on khat rests at a battalion HQ on the eastern frontline in Mogadishu on 18 November 2011.

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Somalia: Routing Al-Shabab 02
Mogadishu
By Noe Falk Nielsen
17 Nov 2011

Two widows of killed Somali Army soldiers collect the salary of their dead husbands in Mogadishu, on 17 November 2011. The Somali army, under-equipped and undertrained, took part in the fighting, losing thousands of soldiers in the process.

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Life in Mogadishu 15
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
04 Nov 2011

Despite the decade of war and strife life went in Mogadishu on as best it could. Here a Somali truck leaving Mogadishu filled to the brim on 4 November 2011.

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Life in Mogadishu 09
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
27 Oct 2011

The war was ever present in the Somali capital in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. Here a Ugandan T55 tank destroyed by the Al Shabaab during the summer of 2011.

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Life in Mogadishu 05
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
24 Oct 2011

As Al Shabaab controlled most of the surrounding areas there were only two accespoints to Mogadishu, the airport and the port. During the famine in the second half of 2011 most of the food arrived on ships through the port with a lesser portion coming in on planes. Here an Ilyushin Cargo Plane takes off from Mogadishu airport after having delivered food aid for the people affected by the famine.

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The Somali National Army in the Somal...
Mogadishu
By Noe Falk Nielsen
15 Oct 2011

Somali National Army pick up truck with a 12.7mm Duskha heavy machine gun mounted on the back.

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The Somali National Army in the Somal...
Mogadishu
By Noe Falk Nielsen
15 Oct 2011

Somali National Army soldiers sit the back of pick up truck in the midst of a battle with al-Shabab.