Somali government launches new offensive
The latest battle comes as government forces try to regain territory that militants seized last week.
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AFP adds that its reporter saw at least two dead bodies, and independent news station Radio Shabelle said that one of its reporters was killed in the fighting. The National Union of Somali Journalists, condemned the death of the reporter, Abdirisak Warsameh Mohamed, in a press release.Skip to next paragraph
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Reuters writes that the death toll is much higher, at 15 at least, and that some of those killed were Islamist rebels, according to residents' accounts. Those accounts also appear to support the government's claim that it had recaptured several parts of the city.
"I saw masked men running away carrying the bodies of four of their friends," Halima Osman, a mother-of-three who lives in the city's sprawling Bakara Market, told Reuters.
"We were surprised to see men in government uniforms fighting in Bakara. They have recaptured four police stations between here and the palace, and they are advancing further." ...
"They have surrounded Bakara Market, al Shabaab's biggest stronghold in the city. We hope for the sake of peace that the government forces do not retreat later," one local man said.
Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports that casualties were "streaming into hospitals." "We have admitted 12 wounded since this morning, but the casualties keep coming hour by hour," Dahir Dhere, of Medina Hospital, told the German news agency.
Though there are no reports of Ethiopian troops being involved in the fighting in Mogadishu, it is noteworthy that the fighting comes after recent evidence that Ethiopian forces are present in Somalia once again. The Christian Science Monitor wrote earlier this week that Somali witnesses say they have seen Ethiopian troops well inside Somali territory, though their purpose there was unclear. But experts believe it is no coincidence that they have entered Somalia amid the Islamist rebels' military successes in the last couple weeks.
"Ethiopia does go in and out of Somali territory, but with reports of the impending collapse of the Somali government by Islamist militias, I gather that Ethiopia would keep a close eye on matters," says Iqbal Jhazbhay, an expert on Somali politics at the University of South Africa in Tshwane, formerly known as Pretoria.