09/08/08 (B460) Press TV – De violents combats près de Mogadiscio qui opposent les Soldats somaliens et les forces du bas Shabelle / Heavy fighting erupts near Mogadishu (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

Heavy fighting has broken out between Somalian soldiers and the lower Shabella regional forces in Afgoye, 45 km from Mogadishu, reports say.

The lower Shabella regional forces receive support from the local people and anti-government forces, a Press TV correspondent reported late Friday.

He said that 1,700 Somali troops are engaged in heavy fighting with the Shabella forces. Both are using heavy weaponry, including mortars, anti-aircraft missiles and automatic weapons. At present the casualty figures are not known.

The sound of massive explosions and heavy gunfire could be heard from a long distance. Fearing for their lives, hundreds of civilians are escaping the area and heading towards so-called safe havens between Afgoye and Mogadishu, he said. The situation is not at all calm, he adds.

The correspondent notes that the people are also afraid of going to Mogadishu because they fear they might be looted of their belongings and arrested by Ethiopian soldiers and possibly killed.

He says that according to a Somali educator, Omar Moallim, the lives of thousands of civilians are in dire need of protection.

Elsewhere, two to three soldiers were killed in a firefight between Mogadishu and Afgoye among bandits and lower Shabella regional forces.

Meanwhile, Somali Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein responding to Somali lawyers supporting the country’s president, told a press conference that lawyers must steer clear of the conflict of the government’s top commanders, saying it is not their business to interfere.