Sports, arts and streetlights: Semblance of normal life returns to Mogadishu, despite mortars

MOGADISHU, Somalia – The crowd — both men and women — cheered wildly as two Mogadishu basketball teams entered an old stadium that once bore the bloodstains of war.

During the recent reign of Islamist militants, playing basketball in Somalia’s seaside capital was punishable by torture or death. Today, Somalia’s blue flag has reclaimed its place over the battered Lujino Stadium, replacing the black banner of al-Shabab, the militant Islamist group that until a few months ago held sway over much of Mogadishu.