Civilians flee Mogadishu clashes

Hundreds of civilians are reportedly fleeing Mogadishu after further fighting erupted between Ethiopian troops and armed men in the Somali capital.

Civilians flee Mogadishu clashes

Hundreds of civilians are reportedly fleeing Mogadishu after furtherfighting erupted between Ethiopian troops and armed men in the Somalicapital.

Residents pushed carts loaded with their belongings through thecity after the government ordered them to leave certain areas for"security reasons".

Ethiopians tanks reportedly opened fire when a Somaligovernment base they were guarding came under attack on Thursday and troops ina southern neighbourhood were seen shooting into the air.
A Mogadishuresident said that another battle had broken out in the northern Ramadhanneighbourhood.

Amina Sabriye, a mother-of-six, told the AFP news agency asshe fled from the Shirkole neighbourhood: "All the fighting sides are makingwarlike statements and are preparing for war.

"The worst decision is to stay one more day in Mogadishu."

Mohamed Mukhtar Sadiq, another resident, said: "I have never seen a massexodus at this scale in the recent years."

Salad Ali Jelle, the deputy defence minister, told a news conference onThursday: "The fighting in Mogadishuwill not stop until we defeat them [the insurgents].

"We will pursue our aim of stabilising Mogadishu. This plan will not behampered by a few individuals," he said, referring to a planned governmentcrackdown on armed groups in the capital.

He also claimed al-Qaeda had named Aden Hashi Ayro as its leader in Mogadishu and he hadcommanded the recent violence.

"After Somali terrorists made consultations with al-Qaeda, Ayro was namedas chief of al-Qaeda in Mogadishu,"he said.

Order rejected

The Hawiye clan, seen by many as the instigators of many of the recent attacksin Mogadishu,have rejected the order to leave and accused the government of planning anassault against the clan.

Most of the Islamist Courts Union fighters, whocontrolled Mogadishuuntil they were forced out by Ethiopian and Somali interim government forces inlate December, are drawn from the clan.

"We see this war as an act of aggression," Ahmed Dirie, a clanspokesman, said.

At least 40,000 people have been displaced by violence since the start ofthe year.

After Ethiopian troops entered Somaliato help the interim government defeat the Islamic Courts the movement vowed toconduct a guerrilla war against them.

Dangerous 'quagmire'

The bodies of several soldiers either from the Somaliinterim government forces and Ethiopian army were apparently draggedthrough the streets by an angry crowd after Wednesday's fighting.

However, in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons, MelesZenawi, the Ethiopian prime minister, denied his soldiers were trapped in adangerous "quagmire" in Somalia.

"We are not in a quagmire now; we have completed our first phase ofwithdrawal, we'll complete our second phase of withdrawal in a few days' timeand things are improving in Somalia,"he said.

Zenawi also claimed that the security problems in Mogadishu had been exaggerated.

"Of course, there are challenges in Mogadishu, but the rest of Somalia isvery stable and even in the case of Mogadishu, taking into consideration thefact that this is a city of 2.2 million people, awash with guns, the type ofsecurity challenge we currently face are not all that unexpected oralarming," he said.

One of the leaders of the Islamic Courts has defended theviolence, saying people had a right to defend themselves against foreigninvasions.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16