Somali anti-insurgent push leaves 50 dead

"We have counted at least 20 civilians killed," Ali Muse, head of the Mogadishu ambulance service said yesterday.

Residents spoke of one dead insurgent in the capital and several said Shebab fighters had also displayed five bodies they said were dead Burundian soldiers from the African Union (AMISOM) force, bringing the toll for the capital to 26.
Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, a Shebab spokesman, held a press conference as the bodies
were displayed at northern Mogadishu's Maslah camp.

"We send a message to the Burundian people, we say to you, you have ignored our calls but today these dead bodies are your sons and if you don't withdraw the rest soon ... many of them will be killed," he said.

The weak Western-backed transitional federal government (TFG) claimed forays into parts of Mogadishu long held by the insurgents and said its forces had captured a building the Shebab used as a base, a claim the insurgents promptly denied.

"Our national army crushed the enemy in several areas including the defence ministry building and in the Shirkole neighbourhood," Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed

"Farmajo" told reporters in the Somali capital.

"We are going to continue fighting until we eliminate the Shebab threat from the country," he added.

The TFG's information ministry said Somali soldiers backed by Burundian soldiers from AMISOM seized the former defence ministry "which the extremists have been using as a logistical and operational base".

"They also captured the former milk factory and the Military Officers Club (Shirkole Officiale) in a major advance in the northwestern part of the city," the statement said.

The capture of those landmarks would mark deeper-than-usual forays into the city by pro-government forces who have mostly been confined to a small perimetre closer to the sea and tasked with protecting TFG institutions.

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