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Somalia Tackles Arms Market
MOGADISHU, May 11, 2007 – In a bid to reinforce its tenuous grip on Somalia’s war-wracked capital, officials have launched a crackdown on an outdoor market in Mogadishu known for its weapons vendors.
The government official in charge of the operation, Colonel Abdurisak Dimoqradi, told reporters traders in the large Bakara market had been told to dismantle their stalls and clear out of public buildings they had taken over.
"We have given them a deadline to destroy illegal stalls in Bakara and I hope they will obey orders," he said.
"We are going to destroy all illegal buildings built after the collapse of the central government" in 1991, when dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted.
Many traders were seen angrily protesting the order.
"I have been doing business for two years in this small kiosk and they are telling me to remove it now," said Salah Ali Abdi, a pharmacist in the market.
Another trader, Dhoore Muse, said: "They are clearing the whole area, but the problem is that they have nowhere for the people to build other business places."
The operation was another signal from Somalia’s two-year-old interim government that it was determined to fully control Mogadishu following its rout of Islamist forces with the help of Ethiopian troops.
A deadly Islamist-led insurgency in the city only abated last month after street battles that claimed hundreds of lives and displaced up to 400,000 civilians.
Smallscale attacks continue against the Somali government, however.
Earlier, a landmine blast killed three civilians in southern Mogadishu shortly after a government convoy drove past, witnesses and officials said.
And at least two civilians were injured by a hand grenade that unidentified attackers threw at a police patrol on Wednesday.
A newly appointed police chief, Abdi Hassan Awale Qeybdid, has promised to crack down on those carrying out the attacks.