Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Kenya : Police arrest 8 over Mombasa rampage

Read more

FOCUS

Overfishing and the global appetite for bluefin tuna: can Tokyo turn the tide?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Too many graphic images from Gaza ?

Read more

FASHION

Who's next in Paris, an event with international ready-to-wear and fashion accessories collections

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Muslims and Christians clean up Bangui, and violence spirals out of control in Algeria's Gardaia

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Is there such thing as 'telegenic' victims of war?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

2014-07-22 07:21 IN THE FRENCH PRESS

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director

Read more

  • US, European airlines suspend flights to Tel Aviv over Israel-Gaza conflict

    Read more

  • France gives go-ahead to pro-Palestinian Paris rally

    Read more

  • Video: Lebanon fears fallout from regional turmoil

    Read more

  • Australian veteran Rogers claims 16th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • French Jews mourn French-Israeli soldier killed in Gaza

    Read more

  • Colombia's Rodriguez signs '€80m' contract with Real Madrid

    Read more

  • A call for harmony in riot-hit ‘Little Jerusalem’ Paris suburb

    Read more

  • Five children among seven killed in minibus crash in eastern France

    Read more

  • Hollande says French warship delivery will ‘depend on Russia’s attitude’

    Read more

  • Widodo wins Indonesian presidential election

    Read more

  • Ukraine rebels release bodies, black boxes from flight MH17

    Read more

  • Notorious ‘VIP’ prison in Paris closed for renovations

    Read more

  • An ‘explosion of violence’: French press reacts to Gaza protests

    Read more

  • Christians in Iraq's Mosul face execution or exodus

    Read more

  • Scores killed as Libyan militias fight over airport

    Read more

  • Ukraine football players refuse to return home after friendly in France

    Read more

Africa

Thousands flee capital as rebels prepare for showdown

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-02-11

Somalis continued to flee Mogadishu on Wednesday as Islamist insurgents shelled the presidential palace and gathered around the capital city to confront a long-promised government offensive.

REUTERS - Violence in Mogadishu killed at least 24 people on Wednesday, and thousands of Somalis fled the capital fearing a government offensive against rebels.

Hardline Islamist insurgents fired mortar shells at the Villa Somalia presidential palace, prompting African Union (AU) guards to respond with a deafening barrage of artillery. At least 16 people died in the bombardment, medical officials said.

The failed Horn of Africa state has had no effective central government for 19 years and the U.N.-backed administration of President Sheikh Ahmed Sharif controls just parts of the city.

“The death toll may rise because we have not yet reached some of the districts where shells also landed,” Ali Muse, coordinator of the city’s ambulance service, told Reuters.

A nurse at Medina Hospital said at least 40 wounded people had been rushed there, five of whom died of their injuries.

Separately, a gunbattle after an argument between police and soldiers at the Mogadishu police academy killed eight people.  Witnesses said at least one civilian also died in the crossfire.

Western security agencies say Somalia has become a safe haven for militants, including foreign jihadists, who use it to plot attacks across the region and beyond. Fighting there has killed at least 21,000 people since the start of 2007.

Witnesses said thousands of residents were leaving the bomb-shattered capital, fearing the start of a government offensive that has been threatened for weeks.

Farhiya Ismael, a mother-of-six, fled north Mogadishu’s Livestock Market district for nearby Elasha two days ago.

She said many fighters from the al Shabaab rebel group, which professes its loyalty to al Qaeda, had entered the capital from one of their bases in the southern port of Kismayu.

“Now it is time to flee this area again,” she told Reuters by telephone. “Last night, AMISOM (AU peacekeepers) shelled the al Shabaab members who had just passed us here and we could not sleep because of panic from the shells.”

Thousands of Somalis have been trained in Kenya and are ready to join the expected government offensive.

For weeks, Ahmed’s administration has been promising to launch an offensive against al Shabaab and another rebel group, Hizbul Islam, which both want to impose a harsh version of sharia law. The other part of the Somali government’s plan to drive back the insurgents includes beefing up AMISOM.

Date created : 2010-02-10

  • SOMALIA

    Islamist groups unite and proclaim loyalty to al Qaeda

    Read more

  • SOMALIA

    Civilians bear brunt of rising violence, says UN report

    Read more

COMMENT(S)