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Mogadishu mayor warns civilians to evacuate as violence rages
MOGADISHU, Somalia 28 October - The mayor of the Somali capital Mogadishu has warned residents in select neighborhoods to leave their homes because the government has "run out of patience" with insurgent groups.
Mayor Mohamed "Dheere" Omar held a press conference at his Mogadishu residence Sunday, saying that Bakara market business groups have failed to stop "anti-peace groups" from using the market to launch attacks on government security forces.
"We appeal to the public to leave areas where the anti-peace groups are in Hodan and Howlwadaag neighborhoods, like Bakara market, because we must take military action and we wish to spare civilian lives," Mayor Dheere said in his strongest words since coming to office earlier this year.
He warned the Bakara business groups to vacate the market in preparation for a military operation carried out by Somali federal troops and Mogadishu police, supported by the Ethiopian army.
Mayor Dheere said the Bakara business association failed in their promise to stop insurgent groups from using the busy marketplace to carry out attacks on government police and soldiers.
Meanwhile, violence in Mogadishu entered the second straight day as insurgents battled Somali-Ethiopian forces in the Bakara area.
Yesterday' s face-to-face gun battles led to nearly 20 deaths, including 3 Ethiopian soldiers.
Mayor Dheere said a protest in Mogadishu today calling for the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops was organized by "men dressed as women."
The protestors, mainly women and children, burned tires and closed off major roads and chanted anti-Ethiopia slogans, witnesses said.
The Dr. Ismail Jumale Human Rights Organization condemned the latest violence in Mogadishu and Marka.
In a press statement, the Mogadishu-based organization said the senseless violence has led to countless civilian deaths, including yesterday's killing of Mohamed Abdi Ibrahim of the Somali Institute of Management and Administration Development (SIMAD).
Nearly 400,000 civilians have fled Mogadishu since February when insurgents began attacks on Ethiopian and government security forces.
Source: Garowe Online