Somalia: Hundreds of civilians flee capital

Mogadishu, 27 August (AKI) - Hundreds of civilians fled from their homes in the Somali capital Mogadishu during the night, fearing an escalation of the fighting between Islamist and government forces, media reports said. At least 65 people have been killed and hundreds injured in clashes there this week.

The civilians were seen fleeing on foot early on Friday towards villages on the outskirs of Mogadishu, after seizing their chance to escape during a lull in the fighting.

"We were holed up in our house for three days, fearing we'd be hit by bullets if we ventured outside," a resident in the Bakara market district of the capital, Amina Mahmodu, was quoted as telling pan-Arab daily al-Quds al-Arabi.

My three children and I were trapped, because there was fighting near our house," she added.

Almost all the stalls in Bakara market, the city's largest, have remained closed this week, forcing civilians to journey outside the city to find food and water.

Bakara market was shelled by mortars on Wednesday.

Al-Qaeda linked Islamist rebel group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for Tuesday's assault on a Mogadishu hotel that killed 31 people, including many politicians.

The Al-Qaeda-associated group has declared a "massive war" on 'invaders', most likely a reference to the 6,000 African Union troops primarily consisting of Ugandan forces.


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