MOGADISHU - A suspected bomb blast killed five women outside a busy market in the Somali capital Mogadishu yesterday, witnesses said.
Residents said an explosive device was apparently detonated by burning garbage in the city's central Howlwadag area.
"Five died, I could not count the wounded. They were all women who were cleaning the streets," said Hawa Ibrahim, a cleaner who witnessed the blast.
"We will stop the clean-up exercise. No one is willing to die for cleaning the street."
Businessman Hawa Jama described an "ugly scene".
"I could not count the dead, I just glanced once and ran away for my life," she said.
The seaside capital has been hit by near-daily insurgent attacks targeting government troops and their Ethiopian military allies that are blamed on an ousted Islamist movement.
The latest blast came after heavy clashes overnight in the north and south of the city between suspected Islamist fighters, police and Ethiopian troops.
A senior policeman in the north said assailants armed with machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and artillery mounted on trucks attacked police in Horuwa, an Islamist stronghold.
"They attacked the policemen thrice and were repulsed every time. No policeman was killed or wounded. This was the heaviest attack on us since a curfew was imposed last Friday," the officer said.
Residents in the area said three people were killed and others wounded when a rocket crashed into a family home.
Abdullahi Abdi, a local, said sporadic shooting could be heard early yesterday, and that Ethiopian troops had sealed off streets and posted snipers on tall buildings. - Reuters