MOGADISHU, Somalia Apr 13 (Garowe Online) -
At least 31 people mostly civilians were killed in the Somali capital Mogadishu during heavy armed clashes and bombings on Tuesday, Radio Garowe reports.
The violence started Monday afternoon when Al Shabaab Islamist insurgents used mortars to target Aden Adde International Airport, a heavily fortified compound and guarded by African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM).
At the time, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, President of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), was flying out of the airport en route to Kampala, Uganda. The 5,300-stron AMISOM force is composed of Ugandan and Burundian soldiers.
On Tuesday, witnesses and other sources said many of Mogadishu’s districts under the control of insurgents were shelled including Hodan, Howlwadaag, Yaaqshiid, Huriwa and Daynile.
|Mogadishu hospital [File Photo]|
AMISOM spokesman Maj. Behoku Barigye confirmed to reporters that at least two Somali airport employees were killed by insurgent mortars that hit airport grounds yesterday.
But he rejected widespread reports that AMISOM peacekeepers shelled some of Mogadishu’s populated districts.
Ali Muse, an ambulance service worker, said: "We have seen 27 dead bodies and we have assisted 100 wounded civilians."
Medina Hospital sources said some of the wounded victims have died at the hospital, including an old man.
Separately, a series of explosions rocked the front of the Police Academy, killing at least people.
Witnesses said four of the dead were Somali police officers.
Al Shabaab insurgents claimed responsibility for staging the remotely detonated explosions. AMISOM spokesman Maj. Behoku denied that any AMISOM soldier was killed or wounded in the explosion, adding: "Our soldiers were not there."
Mogadishu has been gripped by an Islamist insurgency since 2007, when Ethiopian troops invaded southern Somalia to dislodge Islamic Courts Union militia who had seized control of Mogadishu the previous year.
Upwards of 21,000 people have been killed in the conflict since, with more than 1million civilians displaced.
The insurgents, led by Al Shabaab, have vowed to overthrow the Western-backed TFG in Mogadishu and install an Islamic government. But the West and its allies in the region, especially Ethiopia, fear that the Islamists want to provide a safe haven for Al Qaeda terrorists.
Source: Garowe Online