Publication time: 13 November
They vanished into thin air a few days after the war broke out, to the disappointment of supporters and shock of the enemy, but Islamic Courts fighters are slowly taking back the capital Mogadishu.
"The security situation has improved greatly since their return," Yahiya Jamali, a resident of Essi Abadi neighborhood in northeast Mogadishu, told IslamOnline.net.
Residents say Islamic Courts fighters have seized control of at least six of the capital's 16 neighborhoods.
They also control the Bakari central market, Somalia's largest marketplace, and the headquarters of the post and communications companies, according to witnesses.
The fighters are patrolling the streets in broad daylight to enforce law and order in the inflammable capital.
"Thieves have vanished since Islamic Courts fighters began roaming the streets," said Mohammed Hefo from Homr Jadid neighborhood in southern Mogadishu.
"The fighters have killed several notorious gangsters and threatened youngsters who rob cellular phones at gunpoint," he added.
"Now people can move safely in the streets."
Somalia enjoyed a rare sense of security for the first time in a generation under the Islamic Courts, before being toppled by Ethiopian and interim government forces in a two-week war last year.
Since then the capital has descended into chaos, with thousands of residents fleeing several neighborhoods.
Ex-Deputy Premier Hussein Aidid, Islamic Courts leader Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and sacked parliament speaker Sharif Hassan recently formed a joint national front, Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS), against the Ethiopian occupation.
Their forces are waging a guerrilla-style war, carrying out hit-and-run attacks, mainly by night and in Mogadishu.
The re-emergence of the Islamic Courts is attributed to growing public resentment for Ethiopian and puppet government troops.
"The Ethiopians don't distinguish between young and old," said analyst Abdullah Abdi.
"They kill anyone whether a civilian or gunman."
Four were killed when Ethiopia-backed Somali forces opened fire on civilians in the Taleh neighborhood on Tuesday, November 6.
Two bodies of civilians were also recovered from northern Mogadishu's Gupta neighborhood after Ethiopian forces conducted security operations there.
Late October, Ethiopian troops killed three civilians during a protest against their presence.
Bodies of civilians held by Ethiopian troops were found carrying torture signs, say witnesses.
"Violations committed by Ethiopian and government forces have motivated residents to take in Islamic Courts fighters and hide them," said Abdi.
"The people know their enemies and friends."
Somalis traditionally view the Christian military giant across their border as a rival.
Independent analysts believe that any Ethiopian presence in Somalia was sure to provoke a response from the general population.
Click to view image: '119281-9075_1.jpg'
|Liveleak on Facebook|