Residents fled Somalia's capital on Saturday, following a day of fierce
fighting between government forces and Islamist insurgents that killed
at least 45 people.
Most of the dead were civilians. At least 180 others were reported wounded.
the fighting eased Saturday morning, many people began leaving
Mogadishu. An estimated 49,000 residents of the capital had already
The government offensive Friday was intended to drive hardline Islamists from their strongholds in the capital.
Friday also turned to Eritrea, which is accused of arming and financing
the Islamist fighters. The African Union called for United Nations
sanctions on the country, a blockade of its ports and airports and a
no-fly zone over Somalia.
Eritrea's government rejects the charges and says it is the victim of an international conspiracy.
the U.S. State Department and the U.N. Security Council have expressed
concern over Eritrea's alleged involvement with Islamist rebels in
More than 150 people have been killed since the
militants launched an offensive against Somalia's U.N.-backed
government earlier this month.
The insurgents control most of
southern Somalia after two-and-a-half years of fighting, while the
government controls only small pockets of the capital.
African Union has a peacekeeping force of 4,300 soldiers in Somalia,
but its mandate does not allow it to pursue the insurgents.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.