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The Battle of Kismayo began on August 20, 2008 when ogaden clan fighters took the battle to Ethiopian forces in kismayo and their protectorate clan, the Marehan clan. fighters began an offensive to conquer the Southern Somali port of Kismayo from pro-government militias. Three days of fighting reportedly killed 89 people and injured 207 more. Ogaden clan led by Ahmed madoobe took the town, at the expense of the marehan clan who were, upto that point, kept in the city by the Ethiopian army. After the retreat of the Ethiopian army, the marehan militia led by bare hiiraale were seen fleeing the city in all directions and they eventually succumbed to ras kaambooni. on August 22.[1][3]

Battle of Kismayo
Part of the War in Somalia
DateAugust 20–22, 2008
Result Al-Shabaab victory
Flag of the Islamic Courts Union.svg Fighters loyal to Al-Shabaab and the Islamic Courts Union[1] Somalia Marehan pro-government militias
Commanders and leaders
Unknown Somalia Barre Adan Shire Hiiraale
Casualties and losses
At least 89 killed[2]



Al-Shabab, fighting as part of the Islamic Courts Union, was driven out of Kismayo in January 2007 after Ethiopian forces rolled into Somalia to back the interim government in the fight to take control of much of central and southern Somalia.[3] According to Interim Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf, Kismayo was subsequently not under the Ethiopian-backed transitional government's control, and there were no Ethiopian forces in the area at the time of the battle; clan militias in Kismayo claimed to be part of the government, however.[4] In the months prior to the battle, Kismayo was considered peaceful in comparison to Mogadishu, the capital.[5]


Marehan clan militias, led by warlord-turned-parliamentarian Barre Hirale, suffered heavy losses, and Hirale's personal car was reportedly seized by Islamist fighters.[1] According to witnesses, August 22 saw the most intense fighting, with both sides using a lot of heavy guns including anti-aircraft guns.[2]


The fighting in Kismayo is reported to have displaced an estimated 35,000 people. After the withdrawal of Hiiraale's fighters, Al-Shabaab commenced a peaceful disarmament process targeting local armed groups that had been contributing to insecurity in Kismayo.[6] In early September a night-time curfew was imposed.[7]

A new district administration was established on 6 September 2008. Its members reportedly represented the ICU and Al-Shabaab (three members each) plus a local clan (one member) which had played a part in the military assault.[8] The legitimacy of the administration was later disputed, however, as the ICU and elders from local clans alleged that Al-Shabaab had not consulted them adequately.[9]

On 28 September 2012, Kenya Army troops and Raskamboni movement militia re-captured the city from the Al-Shabaab insurgents during the Battle of Kismayo (2012).[10][11] This was a culmination to the Kenyan Operation Linda Nchi attack into Somalia which had begun late the year before.


  1. ^ a b c "Somalia’s Islamists seize Kismayo" Archived September 22, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Garowe Online, August 22, 2008.
  2. ^ a b "Somali city clears bodies after deadly clashes", CNN, August 23, 2008.
  3. ^ a b "Scores killed in Somalia fighting", Al Jazeera, August 23, 2008.
  4. ^ "Death toll hits 20 as al Shabaab capture Kismayo" Archived August 22, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Garowe Online, August 21, 2008.
  5. ^ Sahra Abdi Ahmed, "Toll in southern Somalia fighting hits 55", Reuters (International Herald Tribune), August 22, 2008.
  6. ^ IRIN 2008, 'SOMALIA: Thousands displaced as insurgents take control of Kismayo', IRIN News, 25 August. Retrieved on 25 August 2008.
  7. ^ AP 2008, 'Islamists impose curfew in Somali port town', International Herald Tribune, 9 September. Retrieved on 10 September 2008.
  8. ^ Garowe Online 2008, 'Somalia's Islamists appoint Kismayo administration' Archived 2008-09-16 at the Wayback Machine, Garowe Online, 6 September. Retrieved on 7 September 2008.
  9. ^ AFP 2008, Rival 'Somali Islamists feud over control of port city' Archived September 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, via AFP Google News, 8 September. Retrieved on 9 September 2008.
  10. ^ "Kenyan forces attack last remaining stronghold of al-Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia". Associated Press. 28 September 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  11. ^ Chonghaile, Clar Ni (28 September 2012). "Kenyan troops launch beach assault on Somali city of Kismayo". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 September 2012.