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Battle of Bakara Market
Mogadishu
By Noe Falk Nielsen
29 Apr 2015

The internationally recognised Somali Government, the Transitional Federal Government, had been under siege since the Ethiopian Army pulled out in January 2009. Protected by a small force of Ugandan and Burundian soldiers deployed as the African Union's Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) the government was functioning in a 25 km2 pocket in the capital, Mogadishu, consisting of the State House Complex, the port and the airport base, where AMISOM had their HQ. In the fall of 2010 Al Shabaab attempted to push the government and the AMISOM forces into the sea in a large offensive referred to as the Ramadan Offensive, but AMISOM held their ground and eventually fought back. One of the main turning points of the conflict appeared at the end of July and beginning of August 2011, where combined AMISOM and government forces managed to push Al Shabaab out of Mogadishu, leaving the group wiht only limited footholds in the north and east of the capital.
The present collection depicts the fighting on the first two days of the offensive, where AMISOM and government forces attacked the Bakara Market in the attempt to dislodge the group from it main stronghold in the city.  

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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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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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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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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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Somalia: Routing Al-Shabab 02
Mogadishu
By Noe Falk Nielsen
05 Oct 2011

Ugandan soldiers play checkers with bottle caps in a semi-destroyed building at the eastern part of Mogadishu on 5 October 2011. The Ugandan People's Defense Forces took heavy casualties in the hard fighting as they forced Al Shabaab out of the Somali capital.

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Somalia: Routing Al-Shabab 10
Mogadishu
By Noe Falk Nielsen
29 Jul 2011

An Al Shabaab sniper fires at a Ugandan soldier as he crosses an open area on the frontline during the battle of Bakara Market in Mogadishu on 29 July 2011. Notice the bullet hitting the ground right behind the running soldier.

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Battle of Bakara Market 8
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
29 Jul 2011

Pushing up towards the Al Shabaab HQ located in the National Stadium AMISOM got involved in close quarter fighting in an area of two story buildings half a kilometer from the stadium. Receiving incoming fire from three sides and mortar shelling from the stadium, AMISOM fought back and established themselves in the buildings.

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Battle of Bakara Market 5
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
29 Jul 2011

An al-Shabab sniper fires at a Ugandan soldier as he crosses an open area on the frontline during the battle of Bakara Market in Mogadishu on 29 July 2011. Notice the bullet hitting the ground right behind the running soldier.

As AMISOM established a new frontline, Al Shabab was gathering forces and eventually launched a counter-attack.

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Battle of Bakara Market 6
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
29 Jul 2011

Somali heavy weaponry on the frontline during the battle of Bakara Market in Mogadishu.

Although still in its infancy, the Somali National Armytook part in the offensive and fought alongside AMISOM. Despite being a lose federation of four Somali clans, and using outdated and improvised equipment, the Somali National Army proved affective.

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Battle of Bakara Market 7
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
29 Jul 2011

A Ugandan T55 tank sits in the streets of Mogadishu during the battle of Bakara Market in Mogadishu.

AMISOM's superiority relied mostly on the fact that they could bring to bear superior firepower and in time tactics. The Ugandan T55 tank, designed around 1949, was the backbone of the AMISOM force and could provide close support to the infantry in the close quarter fighting in the narrow streets of Mogadishu.

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Battle of Bakara Market 1
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
28 Jul 2011

Here A Ugandan AMISON soldier crosses a road under fire one hundred meters east of Bakara Market. As al-Shabab gathered reinforcements and AMISOM established a new defensive line, the offensive lost its momentum. Al-Shabab occupied positions in front of the AMISOM defensive line shooting and sniping at the soldiers while they tried to construct new defenses.

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Battle of Bakara Market 2
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
28 Jul 2011

A Ugandan AMINSOM soldier near the frontline during the battle of Bakara Market in Mogadishu on 28 July 2011. AMISOM has been involved in an urban war since their arrival in Somalia. They have been fighting with weaponry dating back to the 1960s. Regardless, they fought an unrelenting war against al-Shabab. Ugandan soldiers making up most of the AMISOM force and the fighting has been bitter and deadly.

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Battle of Bakara Market 3
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
28 Jul 2011

A Ugandan machine gunner at a fortification on the frontline during the battle of Bakara Market in Mogadishu on 28 July 2011.

On the morning of 28 July 2011, AMISOM forces pushed out from their defensive line and seized the area just below Bakara Market. Once the area was secured, the soldiers quickly set up new defensive positions to secure their gain from Al Shabaab counter attacks.

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Battle of Bakara Market 4
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
28 Jul 2011

Urban warfare remains three-dimensional, with buildings and ruins providing numerous possibilities for cover and sniping positions. Here Ugandan soldiers scramble for cover as they come under fire during the battle of Bakara Market in Mogadishu.