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Somali government military forces backed by hundreds of African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) mainly from Burundi and Uganda launched a major military offensive on the outskirts of Mogadishu, focusing on the area between the Deyniile frontline and the Elasha Biyaha, Siinka and Afgoye corridor, populated by internally displaced persons (IDPs).
At least eight people were killed in today’s fighting according to local residents who spoke to Somalia Report.
“We have seen at least eight people killed. Five of them were al-Shabaab fighters. They were loading the bodies onto trucks. One was our neighbor," said a resident from Elasha Biyaha.
“I saw four of the al-Shabaab bodies in Siinka after the heavy fighting. The militant fighters were so angry about the offensive and were regrouping throughout the whole area," he added.
Government official Abdullah Ali Aanood spoke to the reporters on the frontlines and confirmed the attack.
"Our troops have raided militant positions this morning capturing Dayniile Airport. We are now heading to the residential areas of 13KM. Some of our troops are now crossing the long road to Afgoye,” he said.
During a brief talk to the journalist accompanying the troops on the frontlines, TV cameraman Ali Musa Abeyle was also slightly wounded in his right buttock.
Holding a joint press conference in Mogadishu’s main military camp known as Halane, the African Union deputy representative Wafulu Wamumyiye and the current AMISOM Commander Andrew Gutti also spoke about today's operation.
“Our forces have today launched a major offensive which was targeted on the outskirts of capital Mogadishu. This operation is an important step towards insuring humanitarian assistance is reaching the internally displaced people who live in the Afgoye corridor,” said the deputy.
Mr. Gutti has pointed that only objective of this operation was only to make sure the Afgoye corridor was secure since it is a key road which links the capital of Mogadishu and the Lower Shabelle region, used for transporting goods and people.
Government and AMISOM troops forced al-Shabaab fighters out of Mogadishu in Augustst of last year, but the group has been launching hit and run attacks, as well as mortar attacks, from the outskirts of the city.