Bakaara Market
The Bakaara Market is an open market in Mogadishu
Mogadishu , popularly known as Xamar, is the largest city in Somalia and the nation's capital. Located in the coastal Benadir region on the Indian Ocean, the city has served as an important port for centuries....

, Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

, and the largest in the nation. The name Bakaaraha derives from the Somali word for grain silo or storage, baqaar.
The market was created in late 1972 during the reign of Mohamed Siad Barre. Proprietors sold and still sell daily essentials (including staples such as maize, sorghum, beans, peanuts, sesame, wheat and rice, petrol and medicine), but it also largely expanded during the civil war and has become notoriously known as a market of small arms
Small arms
Small arms is a term of art used by armed forces to denote infantry weapons an individual soldier may carry. The description is usually limited to revolvers, pistols, submachine guns, carbines, assault rifles, battle rifles, multiple barrel firearms, sniper rifles, squad automatic weapons, light...

 and other weapons, including rocket propelled grenade
Rocket propelled grenade
A rocket-propelled grenade is a shoulder-fired, anti-tank weapon system which fires rockets equipped with an explosive warhead. These warheads are affixed to a rocket motor and stabilized in flight with fins. Some types of RPG are reloadable while others are single-use. RPGs, with the exception of...

s (RPGs), mortars
Mortar (weapon)
A mortar is an indirect fire weapon that fires explosive projectiles known as bombs at low velocities, short ranges, and high-arcing ballistic trajectories. It is typically muzzle-loading and has a barrel length less than 15 times its caliber....

 (80mm and 120mm), 23mm and 30mm antiaircraft guns, and ammunition of all types.

It is also famous for other illicit activities, such as forged Somali passports processed within minutes, including Ethiopian and Kenyan passports, and other forged documents, including but not limited to birth certificates and university diplomas. This illicit sub-market is famously known as Cabdalle Shideeye, named after one of its first proprietors.

The Bakaara Market is a focus of ongoing arms control
Arms control
Arms control is an umbrella term for restrictions upon the development, production, stockpiling, proliferation, and usage of weapons, especially weapons of mass destruction...

 efforts for the disarmament in Somalia
Disarmament in Somalia
After two decades of violence and civil war and after the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia captured Mogadishu and Kismayo, the TFG attempted to disarm the militias of the country in late 2006...

, and has caught fire a few times in recent years.

Gunfire is commonly heard, as shoppers fire weapons into the air to test them before purchase, hence giving the sub-gun market the nickname cirtoogte (sky shooter). Anti-aircraft guns and mortars are tested at a further distance from the market. In 2001, a rough estimate by aid agencies placed the number of assault rifles in Mogadishu at somewhere near 1 million, for a city population of 1.5 million.

Battle of Mogadishu

In October 1993, the market was the site where one of the two Black Hawk helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

s were downed in the Battle of Mogadishu, which led to a fierce firefight in the area for the following hours as stated in the nonfiction book, Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War
Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War
Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War is a 1999 book by Mark Bowden that chronicles the United States Army Rangers, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, Delta Force, Navy SEALs, and UN forces attempt to capture Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid in Mogadishu and the...


Violence, Fires, Counterfeit Currency

In 1997, a dispute arose over the control of the collection of taxes in the market. As a result of the confrontation, an RPG was fired into a fuel tank (which are above ground in the market, not stored underground). Several civilians were injured.

In March 1999 hundreds fled the market after fighting erupted. Fighting continued between Islamic Courts and secular militias through April.

On January 26, 2000, the market was the site of the shooting of Ahmed Kafi Awale, a radio commentator for Hussein Mohamed Aidid's Radio of the Somali People. Awale was there covering the market. Three others were killed and seven badly injured.

On January 5, 2001, a fire broke out in the market, caused by two fighting militias. The vegetable section of the market was destroyed, as was part of the milk section. Islamic Courts Union (ICU) militia forces broke up the fighting.

In February 2001, an influx of counterfeit
To counterfeit means to illegally imitate something. Counterfeit products are often produced with the intent to take advantage of the superior value of the imitated product...

 currency led to the shutting of the market for a time. The Somali shilling
Somali shilling
The Somali shilling is the official currency of Somalia...

 collapsed. Traders only accepted U.S. dollars
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

 for a time. Not only the cost of arms were affected—the cost of food and essentials doubled during the crisis.

On April 10, 2004, another fire broke out in the market. According to a report to the UN Security Council:
On the night of 10 April [2004], a serious fire in the main Bakaara market in Mogadishu resulted in at least eight people killed and more than 30 wounded. Armed looters shot indiscriminately into the crowd. The incident caused widespread insecurity in the areas surrounding the market.

On October 2, 2007, another raging fire started in the market, spreading rapidly. The fire reportedly was caused by a fired shell during a brief fight between the terrorist forces against Ethiopian
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

 peacekeepers and their allied transitional government forces nearby.

On October 15, 2009, Al-Shabab
Al-Shabab is a Saudi Arabian professional football club based in Riyadh. It was founded in 1947, and was named at first Shabab AlRiyadh, but later in 1967 was named Al Shabab. Al Shabab is well known in Saudi Arabia as one of the best in football...

 insurgents shelled the Bakara Market with mortars, killing 20 people and wounding 58.

On May 1, 2010, two bombs detonated at a mosque near the market, killing 39 people and wounding 70.

On May 12, 2011 AMISOM and TFG launched an offensive towards the market to clear out Al-Shabaab.

On May 14, 2011 heavy shelling hit the market resulting in at least 14 civilian was killed. Most of civilian killed was women doing their shopping, one child was also among those killed.

Security Checkpoints

The security checkpoint
Civilian checkpoint
Civilian checkpoints or Security checkpoints are distinguishable from border or frontier checkpoints in that they are erected and enforced within contiguous areas under military or paramilitary control...

 for the market was controlled for a long while by Mohamed Qanyare Afrah, a Mogadishu warlord
A warlord is a person with power who has both military and civil control over a subnational area due to armed forces loyal to the warlord and not to a central authority. The term can also mean one who espouses the ideal that war is necessary, and has the means and authority to engage in war...

 who was appointed Minister of National Security by the Transitional Federal Government
Transitional Federal Government
The Transitional Federal Government is the current internationally recognized government of the Republic of Somalia. It was established as one of the Transitional Federal Institutions of government as defined in the Transitional Federal Charter adopted in November 2004 by the Transitional...

. The checkpoints for the market were to be taken down in June 2005 as part of the Green Leaf for Democracy (GLED) initiative of a "Global Week against Small Arms."

Recent Activities

The arms trading in the Bakaara Market was closed by the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) after they took control of the capital following the Second Battle of Mogadishu
Second Battle of Mogadishu
The Second Battle of Mogadishu was a battle fought for control of Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia. The opposing forces were the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism , and militia loyal to the Islamic Court Union . The conflict began in mid-February, 2006, when Somali...


A fire broke out December 6, 2006, beginning at a charcoal storage facility and then spreading to nearby shops.

On December 11, the Islamists announced they planned to impose a tax on the market to raise funds for their movement. Before they could effect their plans, the ICU left the capital. On December 28, 2006, the market closed during the uncertainty of the Fall of Mogadishu
Fall of Mogadishu
The Fall of Mogadishu occurred on December 28, 2006, when the militaries of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government and Ethiopian troops entered the Somali capital unopposed...


Arms tradings recently re-opened with the ousting of the ICU by the Transitional Federal Government
Transitional Federal Government
The Transitional Federal Government is the current internationally recognized government of the Republic of Somalia. It was established as one of the Transitional Federal Institutions of government as defined in the Transitional Federal Charter adopted in November 2004 by the Transitional...

. However, Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi has ordered a disarmament of the populace, calling the future of the Bakaara Market into question.

A particular worry are the reports that children, armed with AK-47
The AK-47 is a selective-fire, gas-operated 7.62×39mm assault rifle, first developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is officially known as Avtomat Kalashnikova . It is also known as a Kalashnikov, an "AK", or in Russian slang, Kalash.Design work on the AK-47 began in the last year...

's and whips, are being used by the militant group al-Shabab
Al-Shabaab (Somalia)
Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen , more commonly known as al-Shabaab , is a terrorist group of militants fighting to overthrow the government of Somalia. As of 2011, the group controls large swathes of the southern parts of Somalia, where it is said to have imposed its own strict form of Sharia law...

  as a method of enforcing their interpretation of Sharia law
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

on the populace.
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