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In Somali capital, a year without Islamist militia

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The shift started with the removal of Al Shabab, beginning early Aug. 6, 2011, after months of daily bombardment by the African Union (AU) mission AMISOM

Now traders who no longer fear stray bullets or mortar blasts are repainting and fitting glass to their shop fronts. Solar-charged streetlights brighten evenings along newly patched roads that marked front lines just a year ago. 

Down at Lido Beach, where couples on Vespa scooters once cruised the palm-lined promenade in prewar times, the sea is again dotted with swimmers and teams play boisterous volleyball beside the surf. 

Above them, scheduled flights from Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Kenya come in to land at the refurbished Aden Adde International Airport, bringing with them Somalis returning home with money to invest after fleeing years ago to wait out the war.  

Inflows of remittances have increased by 20 percent since January, according to Dahabshiil, an international money-transfer firm. The Somali shilling has strengthened by almost 50 percent against the dollar in 12 months.  

“People realized that we now had security when we saw there was no more fighting and no more bombings, and every area became populated again,” says Farah Jimale, owner of Cosmetics Center at Bur Ubax in Bakara market.

“Now truly there is opportunity here and I have many new customers.” 

But then he paused. And in that pause was the largely unspoken reality that all this change is tenuous and fragile, and that Mogadishu’s brief spell of security could crash back to chaos at any time. 

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