March 21, 2012: As AU (African Union) peacekeepers advance out of Mogadishu they make it possible to get a better idea of what happened to all the food aid that entered the country last year to deal with the famine. The food shortages last year killed at least 50,000 people and it's now known that a lot more of the food aid was stolen than believed. Actually, many nations had halted food aid for Somalia because of the tradition of stealing aid. This was accelerated when al Shabaab expelled many foreign aid organizations. Foreigners working for aid organizations that stayed were also driven out, leaving only Somali employees. This led to more corruption and theft. Now it will be even more difficult to get food and other aid contributions from foreign nations.
AU peacekeepers are advancing outside Mogadishu and plan to establish control over roads and key towns in central Somalia. This is being done along with newly trained soldiers of the TNG (Transitional National Government) as well as allied militias.
Kenya has suffered more al Shabaab bomb attacks in the last year. The attacks have tripled since the previous year and now average 3-4 a week. Most of them occur near the Somali border and involve Somalis (from Somalia, or those born in Kenya). This is low level stuff, usually involving a hand grenade. Big attacks, as happen in Iraq and Afghanistan, are rare.
March 20, 2012: In the southwest al Shabaab terrorists pushed pro-government militiamen out of the village of Diif. Farther north al Shabaab gunmen drove Sufi militiamen out of the town of Dhusamareb, which has changed hands several times in the last six years. The Sufi militia quickly got reinforcements and counterattacked. There are several hundred casualties, most of them al Shabaab. It's unclear who actually holds the town now.
March 19, 2012: In Mogadishu al Shabaab managed to move a mortar into the city and fired shells at the presidential palace. The shells missed and landed in a refugee camp, killing six. In the far south, on the coast, two warplanes were seen firing missiles outside the town of Jiib (near the al Shabaab held port of Kismayo). It's uncertain if al Shabaab men or civilians were killed.
March 17, 2012: An American born al Shabaab member Abu Mansoor al Amriki, frequently a video (via the Internet) spokesman for the terrorist group, recently released a video claiming that some al Shabaab members were out to kill him because of a dispute within al Shabaab over enforcing Islamic lifestyle rules. Al Shabaab quickly announced that no one was out to kill al Amriki (who apparently was not reassured). But there are such disputes within al Shabaab and these arguments have caused the organization to split into factions.
March 16, 2012: Off the Somali coast, armed guards on a chemical tanker repelled a pirate attack. In Mogadishu al Shabaab gunmen, armed with a mortar, attacked on the outskirts and were stopped by AU peacekeepers.
March 14, 2012: In Mogadishu a suicide bomber attempted to get into the presidential palace but was stopped at the gate where he detonated his bomb, killing five other people.
March 13, 2012: Al Shabaab gunmen are now counterattacking in the southwest. Several clashes recently have caused over a dozen casualties.