Birth of A Nation

Demolished by a decade of civil war, Somalia is trying to creep back to normality

General Yusuf Talan was sipping coffee at a popular Mogadishu cafe last fall when the four gunmen approached him. They demanded he get in their waiting car, and when he refused, one of the men raised a G-3 assault rifle to his shoulder and pumped nine bullets into the general's head and chest. Talan had recently been given the job of disarming the thousands of militiamen who still control large swaths of this Horn of Africa country. The bullets that killed him were a blunt message from the warlords to Somalia's new government: You control nothing; take us on at your...

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