Trapped civilians flee Mogadishu before next clashes
MOGADISHU - Residents trapped in the past two days of fighting in Mogadishu's Deynile district made the most of a lull Saturday to flee before the next clashes, sources in the capital said.
"There is no fighting in Mogadishu this morning. It is quiet," Ali Muse, the head of the city's ambulance service said.
"There was heavy fighting last night but the situation is calm this morning," confirmed Ahmed Soyal, a Somali government security official.
Military sources close to the African Union's AMISOM force in Mogadishu said Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab rebels had launched several attacks on their positions in Deynile overnight.
"The Shebab attacked our men several times during the night but were pushed back," a senior officer said Saturday, adding that his men had found the bodies of five Shebab fighters killed overnight.
A Burundian officer within the AMISOM force confirmed the clashes overnight.
The latest fighting in Deynile started before dawn on Thursday when AMISOM troops tried to flush out pockets of Shebab fighters.
Late Thursday the Shebab said they had killed "more than 70" Burundian soldiers.
The Burundian army Friday officially admitted it had lost six men, but the Burundian officer in AMISOM said the truth lay somewhere between the two figures, confirming that "some 30" men had been lost Thursday in Deynile.
"Our men wanted to occupy a zone the Shebab had pulled out of. They advanced without cover and fell into a trap," he said, asking not to be named.
The Shebab, who had "undertaken a tactical withdrawal" cut off their rear "and massacred them."
"Deynile district is empty this morning. There is no fighting but you can still hear random machine gun fire and hundreds of people are streaming out of town with their children on their backs," Ibrahim Deynile, a witness said.
Adan Mohamed, a father of three, said he had fled Deynile overnight.
"I walked for several hours with my wife and children last night. I’m in Seypiano now. Most of Deynile's residents have fled in the past two days," he said.