Somalis flee Mogadishu offensive

The Somali government has warned residents of several areas of Mogadishu to leave their homes ahead of a new military offensive against clan militia and fighters.

Somalis flee Mogadishu offensive

TheSomali government has warned residents of several areas of Mogadishu to leave their homes ahead of a newmilitary offensive against clan militia and fighters.

Witnesses said that hundreds of Ethiopian troops were seen entering the capitalon Monday during a lull in the fighting after four days of street battles.



Residentssaid that the Ethiopian reinforcements moved in as elders from Mogadishu's dominant Hawiye clan insisted aceasefire was in place.

Ethiopia denied that it had deployed anynew troops in Somalia,but a spokesman said that Somali and Ethiopian forces were strenghtening theirpositions.



"Thereare no new soldiers deployed from Ethiopia. They are not a newdeployment. Two-thirds of the Ethiopian troops deployed to Somalia werewithdrawn," Solomon Abebe, foreign ministry spokesman, told the AFP newsagency.

Ethiopian forces arrived in Somaliain December last year to help the UN-backed interim government force out theUnion of Islamic Courts which had taken control of much of south and central Somalia.

Fighting 'terrorists'

Salad Ali Jelle, Somalia'sdeputy defence minister, said the government did not recognise areported truce between the Ethiopian military and clan elders.

Heinsisted that the government had been fighting "terrorists" for thepast four days, not clan militias.

"The Hawiye clan are not terrorists," Jelle said, calling theceasefire "null and void".

Hundreds of residents of Mogadishutook the opportunity to flee the city early on Monday.

"Last night was the first night I have slept since the war started,"a clan militia fighter told Reuters news agency on Monday.

"Peoplesee this as a chance to collect their belongings and get out."

The United Nations refugee agency says about 10,000 people have left over thepast three days alone, bringing the total number of displaced to nearly100,000 since February.

Most of them have gone to the Lower Shabelle region south of Mogadishu, the UNHCR said.
"With internally displaced people begging on the streets, sleeping withoutshade and suffering from diarrhoea, people are forced to make their way furtherand further from Mogadishu, due to dwindling resources and deterioratingconditions," it said.

Landmine blast

Despite the reported ceasefire, a landmine exploded in southern Mogadishu as a government convoy carrying generalAbdullahi Ali Omar, the commander of Somalia's army, passed.

He was unhurt in the blast, which the interim government blamed on al-Qaeda.

"An al-Qaeda cell was behind the explosion. They want to kill keygovernment officials. They want to do here what they are doing in Iraq,"Hussein Mohamoud Hussein, Somali presidential spokesman, said.

Also on Monday, two men and two women were shot by Ethiopian troops whilecrossing a street in Ali Kamin, where Ethiopian soldiers and tanks were holdingtheir positions, witnesses said.

Somali reporters say they have seen scores of dead lying in the streets, while Ethiopia saysit has killed 200 insurgents. 

Residents say they believe several hundred people - mainly civilians - havedied.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16