Civilians dead in Mogadishu clashes

At least 22 Somalis, including a Mogadishu police chief, die as troops battle fighters.

    Five children were among the civilians killed by fighting in Mogadishu [AFP]
     

    Fighters linked to al-Qaeda have stepped up attacks on the government in the past two months, to try and oust Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the Somali president.

    Fierce clashes have killed nearly 300 people since early May.

    Bodies lay in the streets and hospital wards were packed with casualties on Wednesday.

    Dahir Dhere, deputy director of the Madina hospital in Mogadishu, said: "We have received 50 people injured in today's fighting."

    Foreign fighters

    Western nations, some of Somalia's neighbours and the government fear that if the chaos persists, foreign fighters will be sucked into nation, increasing risks to the region in general.

    "We do not have a specific number, but at least 500 fighters are in Mogadishu alone and I think this is a great danger to the entire region," Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, the Somali prime minister, said.

    "Some middle ranking al-Qaeda officials came into the country and they want to make a base in Somalia," he told the Reuters news agency in Nairobi, Kenya.

    "If these guys succeed in taking over Somalia, they will create havoc in the continent."

    Police chief killed

    Among the victims of Wednesday's violence was Ali Said, a Mogadishu police chief.

    People in various parts of the city were struck by stray bullets.

    "The commander died in the fighting this morning when the troops overran the opposition trenches," Abdiqadir Odweyne, a senior police official, said.

    The al-Shabaab group has so far resisted government attempts drive its fighters from Mogadishu and the fighters, along with its allies Hizbul Islam, now control most of southern Somalia bordering Kenya and parts of the central region.

    Analysts say the fighting in Mogadishu is the worst for years and the chances of any negotiated peace are waning.

    African Union peacekeepers are protecting vital Somali sites, but government forces have so far lacked the strength to win back territory within or outside Mogadishu.

    The government says it is confident of retaking major towns, but has called on African and Western nations to deliver on promises of logistical and financial support.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Learn what India's parties' symbols mean by drawing them

    Learn what India's parties' symbols mean by drawing them

    More than 2,300 political parties have registered for the largest electoral exercise in the world.

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states have launched more than 19,278 air raids across Yemen.

    Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

    Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

    No, it wasn't because of WMDs, democracy or Iraqi oil. The real reason is much more sinister than that.