Street FIGHT:Conflict
Elasha Biyaha Residents Flood Mogadishu
Fears of Drone Strikes Send Residents Towards the Capital
By RIJAL FARAH 01/23/2012
The suspected American drone strike that killed Lebanese Al-Qaeda fighter Bilal al-Barjawi in the outskirts of Mogadishu has sparked fears among residents and forced some to return to the inner neighborhoods of the capital.

“We are scared of more strikes because Al-Shabaab fighters live around here and they might be potential targets,” Halima Ali Hussein, a resident who lives few meters away from the attack site, told Somalia Report. Shrapnel and dust was flying away from the impact area and if it happens again it might be fatal.”

Hundreds of families on passenger buses and trucks have been streaming back to Mogadishu in an attempt to escape possible deterioration of the security situation in Elasha Biyaha, about 15 km south of the capital.

Residents fear that Elasha Biyaha could be the next target for African Union forces (AMISOM) once central Mogadishu is secured.

However, some residents are still of two minds.

“I do not know what to do, my sons go to university in Elasha Biyaha and security is not reliable,” said Naimo Ahmed. “I think, I should wait a bit to see if the university will make some arrangements.”

Fleeing residents told Somalia Report that al-Shabaab has been collecting money from trucks and buses to prevent them from traveling to Mogadishu, but it was not been immediately clear if the collection is a direct response to curb the flow of people, or merely if it is just a daily source of revenue for the Islamist organization.

Some of the returnees have also been encouraged by recent gains by AMISOM peacekeepers in Mogadishu.

“I want go back home. I think it is safer now,” said Abdi Mohamed, whose family returned to Mogadishu.