NAIROBI (Somalilandpress) — An influx of fighters from Islamist insurgents have filled the streets of the capital of the wartorn nation of Somalia as the government announces fresh offensive against Islamist rebel, residents and witnesses told Somalilandpress.
A local journalist has said on conditions of anonymity that heavily armed Al-Shabab fighters arriving from the town of Baidoa have filled the streets of Mogadishu on Friday and Saturday in an attempt to hold their positions.
The journalist also said hundreds of Somali government forces have been deployed into the front line areas currently under control of Islamist insurgents.
Somali president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has confirmed that his government was ready to mount a fresh offensive against the rebel mostly in the capital Mogadishu.
He added that his troops were ready to take strategic towns in southern Somalia including Baidoa, Kismayu and Merka, curently under the control of Al-Shabaab and Hisbul-Islam.
A large number of African Union troops have approached Merka and Baraawe ports assisting the Somali government, Press TV based in Iran reported.
There are 5000 AU troops in the country mainly from Uganda and Burundi, the Somali government has repeatedly requested at least 8000 in order to flash-out the rebels.
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The reporter has confirmed to Somalilandpress that civilians have fled their homes in Mogadishu’s southern districts of Hodan, Wardhigley and Howl-Wadag.
Some of the civilians are reported to have fled to Elsha, 15 Km (9 miles) southwest of Mogadishu where at least one-quarter of a million Somalis are already based, displaced by the war.
Al-Shabab hardliners, who openly admitted their links with Al-Qaeda control most of southern Somalia while the weak Somali government backed by Western countries are confined to small pockets of the country.
The fighting in Somalia has killed over 19,000 Somalis since 2007 and has further displaced 1.5 million people inside the country while another 560,000 civilians have registered as refugees in neighboring countries. Somalia is one of the world’s worst humanitarian emergencies and was ranked the most corrupted country in 2009.
The Horn of Africa nation has not had an effective government since warlords overthrew longtime dictator Maj. General Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
Picture: Hard-line Islamist Al Shabab fighters conduct military exercise in northern Mogadishu’s Suqaholaha neighborhood, Somalia, Friday Jan. 1, 2010. The group’s senior official said the young fighters have recently completed training to join what they said to be a global war against the enemy of Allah. (AP Photo/ Farah Abdi Warsameh)
By Muhyadin Ahmed Roble
Nairobi – Kenya
Somalilandpress, 6 February 2010