Intermittent gunfire was heard around a southern district that saw the worst fighting on Wednesday as al-Qaeda-inspired al-Shabaab fighters tried to cut off a key road under the control of the embattled government.
"The situation is quiet for the time being. There is no fighting except sporadic shooting sometimes heard around Bermuda area where the heaviest fighting occurred yesterday [Wednesday]," Mohamed Moalim, a government official, said. Families trapped by the heavy fighting that broke out Monday took advantage of the relative calm to flee from their homes.
"They are not fighting this morning but they are still facing off. The civilians who were trapped near the contested areas are fleeing this morning in order to avoid the fighting, which is likely to resume any time," said Hassan Abdi, a resident of Bakara neighbourhood.
More than 70 civilians have
been killed since the fighting erupted Monday. About 30 of them, including four lawmakers, were mowed down when two extremist fighters raided a hotel in the war-torn Somali capital on Tuesday.
Al-Shabaab officials said on Wednesday they had struck deep into a Mogadishu area controlled by the government and its African Union backers and nearly seized control of Maka Al-Mukarama road, a key supply route for the AU forces.
But the government said it repelled the hard-line fighters.
The AU forces, made up of about 6 000 Ugandan and Burundian forces, are the last barrier for al-Shabaab's total control of Mogadishu.
Since they launched their onslaught against the government in May 2009, the Islamist group has greatly reduced the area controlled by the Western-backed transitional government to just a few blocks in the south of Mogadishu. (Sapa-AFP)