Heavy Fighting Close to Somali President's Palace

Published on Thursday 22nd July 2010

Although this morning started with relative serenity, residents in Mogadishu's eastern districts witnessed some of the most intensive confrontations in the past months.

Clashes between fighters loyal to Al-Shabaab, the most radical Islamist group opposing the Transitional Federal Government, and the pro-government forces that included the peacekeepers serving the African Union Mission in Somalia, Amisom, have been extremely heavy in the last three days.

The heavy exchange of fire appear to have reached its climax on Tuesday night as the pro-government forces tried their best to push back rebel advances towards Villa Somalia, the state house in Mogadishu.

Nearly twenty people have been reported to have died and over sixty injured as assumed by ambulance servicemen in the Somali capital. Most of the dead belonged to the fighting sides although innocent civilians generally absorbed the brunt of the confrontations.

Ali Yusufey Mukhtar, a resident in Bondhere, one of the affected districts, said that most of the people in Bondhere and Shibs districts have already fled the heavy fighting in the past two days and nights.

Both the government and Amisom officials stated that their forces repelled the Al-Shabaab jihadists. However, residents like Mukhtar admit that the two forces are facing each other and further clashes could break out anytime Wednesday.

Sheikh Abdulaziz Abu Mus'ab, the spokesman of Al-Shabaab's jihad operations, claimed that his fighters captured strategic positions, especially in Bondhere district, which is closer to the presidential palace. He added that attacks by the pro-government forces were rejected.On the other hand, the TFG's Bondhere District Commissioner, Abdullahi Hersi Warsame alias Stikin, claimed that the rebels were pushed back and the government forces will continue to pursue them.



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