Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mogadishu battle rages on after hotel carnage

Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Heavy fighting between government troops and Islamist insurgents brought further bloodshed to Mogadishu on Wednesday, a day after gunmen stormed a hotel killing 30 people, including six Somali lawmakers.

AFP - Heavy clashes resumed in Mogadishu early Wednesday between Somali government forces backed by African peacekeepers and Islamist insurgents leaving six civilians dead, witnesses said.

Fighting erupted afresh on several fronts in the north and southern parts of the capital after the two sides exchanged heavy artillery fire on Tuesday night.

The renewed fighting follows Tuesday's carnage in a Mogadishu hotel, in which two Islamist militants disguised as government soldiers mowed down 30 people, including six members of parliament, before blowing themselves up.

Both sides said they had the upper hand Wednesday.

"The fighting resumed this morning intensely and the government forces are advancing towards the enemy lines, they (the enemy) lost many fighters," Colonel Mohamed Adan, a Somali government security officer told AFP

Witnesses said six civilians died when a mortar shell struck their houses.

"I saw the dead bodies of six civilians killed this morning, four of them died in one place and the others died separately in Yaqshid neighborhood," Muhidin Ali, a witness said.

Hassan Nur Ahmed, another witness gave the same toll. Mogadishu ambulance service officials said they collected round 18 injured civilians.

Rebels from the Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab movement also claimed victory.

"Our fighters moved ahead this morning and there were clashes around several defensive positions of the apostate government and the African invading Christians supporting them," Sheik Abdiaziz Abu-Muscab, Al-Shebab's military operations spokesman said.

"Thanks to Allah, we have killed many soldiers and the Mujahideen fighters are now in full control of their last strongholds," he said.

"The apostate government and its Christian masters were controlling only one of the four main roads in Mogadishu and with the assistance of Allah’s power, our fighters cut off that road today and the enemy cannot move between their positions," Abu-Muscab added.

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