MOGADISHU, May 10 – Weekend clashes between pro-government Somali Islamists and a hardline militant group have killed at least 21 people, witnesses and officials said Sunday.
At least 14 people, including a security official, were killed in the fighting that intensified overnight and spread to other districts in the strife-torn Somali capital, witnesses and police said.
Seven others were killed on Saturday evening in northern Mogadishu in the clashes that erupted for the second time this week between the rival groups.
Thousands of people were fleeing their homes while many others were still trapped, an AFP correspondent reported.
"It was shocking last night here in my neighbourhood. A mortar hit a house killing four family members on the spot," said Husein Mohamed Waberi, a witness.
A government security official, his two body guards and six other civilians were killed in southern Mogadishu’s Wardhigley district where the violence spread, other witnesses said.
An AFP correspondent saw a body of a civilian killed along a street near Mogadishu stadium.
The pro-government fighters and the hardline Hizb al-Islamiya group clashed over the control of a police station, drawing in other Islamist groups opposed to President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s government.
Dozens of others were wounded, police and hospital officials said.
Medical sources in northern Mogadishu’s Keysaney hospital said that around 80 wounded civilians were taken for treatment.
Hardline Islamist militia in the capital have in recent days intensified attacks against government targets.
After Ahmed’s January election, some Islamist fighters joined his administration to form joint security units with troops of the country’s transitional government which he now heads.