Source: Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute

March 09, 2010

Mogadishu Map: Areas of Control

The Critical Threats Project has produced a map of Mogadishu depicting general areas of control in the Somali capital and highlighting recent events in al Shabaab's ongoing offensive against the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). This page will be updated as necessary.

2011 Winter Offensive (February 2011 - March 2011)

2010 Ramadan Offensive (August 2010 - September 2010)


The TFG, backed by AMISOM, has increased the overall area under government control since the end of al Shabaab’s fall 2010 Ramadan offensive. The number of troops securing that area has remained fairly consistent. Al Shabaab regularly conducts disruptive operations in government-controlled districts of Mogadishu. Toward the end of February 2011, however, al Shabaab increased the frequency of attacks and has engaged AMISOM troops, especially Burundian troops in the south of the city, more than previously.

2011 Winter Offensive

Al Shabaab established bases in Yaqshid, Heliwa, and Karan districts in northern Mogadishu, where it prepares for operations in contested districts. It also has safe havens in Abdi Aziz, Wardhigley, and parts of Hawl Wadag districts. Bakara Market, for example, remains under al Shabaab control. Recent reports suggest that in certain strongholds, al Shabaab has barricaded and booby-trapped the streets to control who enters the area and established training centers for militants.

Contested districts in Mogadishu are Hodan, Hawl Wadag, Bondhere, Shibis, and Shingani. Al Shabaab uses grenade attacks in the less secure, government-controlled districts such as Dharkenley, where attacks on checkpoints are frequent. Al Shabaab uses larger-scale improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to attack higher-value targets in more secure districts such as Hamar Jabjab. Al Shabaab and forces have clashed repeatedly over control of one of the major roads in Mogadishu, Warshadaha road, which runs between the al Shabaab-controlled northern districts and the AMISOM-controlled southern districts of the city.

Paul Jarvis contributed to the research behind this map.

2010 Ramadan Offensive

The TFG, backed by AMISOM, maintains control of strategic locations in Mogadishu, including Aden Adde International Airport, the seaport, Villa Somalia, and the route connecting Villa Somalia to the airport, Makka al Mukarama road. AMISOM is headquartered near the airport and controls major bases at the K4 junction, the Jalle Siad military academy, and Villa Somalia. AMISOM and the TFG have established forward-operating bases near al Shabaab safe havens and claim to control over 60 percent of Mogadishu. Districts under TFG and AMISOM’s control include Dharkenley, Wadajir, Waberi, Hamar Jabjab, and Hamar Weyne.

The TFG still controls strategic locations in Mogadishu, namely Aden Adde International Airport, the seaport, and Villa Somalia, along with the main supply route, Makka al Mukarama road, that connects Villa Somalia to the airport.  AMISOM headquarters are located near the airport, and a major AMISOM base at the K4 intersection north of the airport secures the road.  TFG and AMISOM bases protect government interests and transportation routes.  The Ugandan contingent of AMISOM operates the K4 base and all bases to the east.  Burundian forces control the AMISOM bases in Hodan, Dharkenley, and Wadajir districts.  New AMISOM bases tend to reinforce the security of already-established bases and are not expanding the area of control.  The AMISOM force, now at 7,100 troops, is unlikely to be able to push farther with its current numbers.

Al Shabaab operates safely out of Yaqshid, Heliwa, and Karan districts, where it has established bases and can prepare for operations.  The group has recently gained control over Abdi Aziz and Wardhigley districts and is strongly contesting control over Shibis and Hawl Wadag districts, where it has gained significant ground.  Bakara Market, for example, is under al Shabaab control.  Hizb al Islam, fighting in support of al Shabaab, generally operates out of Hodan district.

The primary attack zone encompasses Bondhere, Hamar Weyne, Hamar Jabjab, and Waberi districts where there are high-value AMISOM and government targets.  Al Shabaab generally executes larger-scale attacks in these districts.  Shibis, Hodan, Abdi Aziz, and Hawl Wadag districts experience a more constant level of violence stemming from ground movements and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted along transportation routes.  Shelling by AMISOM is concentrated on, but not limited to, Bakara Market in Hawl Wadag district because of al Shabaab’s location.

Cody Curran contributed to the research behind this map.