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Thousands leave Mogadishu after deadly attacks

There was mass exodus after heavy fighting between Ethiopian troops and gunmen.

world Updated:

Thousands of terrified civilians poured out of the Somali capital on Saturday a day after heavy fighting between Ethiopian troops and gunmen overnight left at least 10 people dead.

"I was very scared yesterday after I heard the heaviest explosion ever in the capital," said Adan Dirir Bare, a resident of southern Mogadishu, told the agency.

"I had insisted a lot on staying in Mogadishu but not now."

A mother of five, Sahro Ali Mohamed, said that houses in her Mogadishu neighbourhood were deserted.

"People cannot endure the heavy artillery and mortar exchange that kills people every time," she said as she left with her family in tow.

Their departure comes a day after the heaviest fighting witnessed so far since Somali government troops backed by the Ethiopian army drove Islamists out of the capital in late December.

At least 10 people died overnight, including five children, caught in the crossfire of the clashes.

The government and the Ethiopians blame remnants of the hardline Islamist movement for stoking the violence.

Those leaving Saturday were also fleeing the north of the city, which until Friday had been spared the attacks that have convulsed other parts of the capital.

First Published: Feb 24, 2007 16:48 IST