Somali opposition fighters cordon off parts of capital

Clashes erupt with government troops over the President’s bid to extend his mandate by two years

Somali opposition fighters took up positions in parts of the tense capital on Monday, a day after clashes with government troops erupted over the President’s bid to extend his mandate.

Witnesses reported that armed men and vehicles mounted with machine guns were stationed in opposition strongholds, while key roads in Mogadishu were blocked.

“Both the Somali security forces and the pro-opposition fighters have taken positions along some key roads,” witness Abdullahi Mire told AFP.

Somalia, already fragile after decades of civil war and an Islamist insurgency, is facing its worst political crisis in recent years after the failure to hold planned elections in February.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, best known by his nickname Farmajo, has faced harsh criticism from foreign allies after signing a law approved by parliament which extended his mandate by two years.

On Sunday night, sporadic bursts of heavy gunfire rang out across the capital after fighting broke out between government forces and soldiers allied to the various opposition leaders.

The clashes — mainly in the northern neighbourhoods of Sanca and Marinaya and the busy KM4 crossroads in the centre — began after dozens of opposition supporters marched in protest against Mr. Farmajo’s term extension.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.- ‘Stop the fighting’ –

Tensions remained high on Monday, with some people trying to leave their homes in tense neighbourhoods.

“People are starting to flee from Bermudo area where the pro-opposition fighters have taken positions last night, the situation is tense and there can be an armed confrontation anytime if the situation remain the same,” Fadumo Ali, a resident of one of the tense neighbourhoods told AFP.

Mogadishu residents urged both sides to stop fighting, and complained that electricity and water had been cut.

“We need both sides to stop the fighting, have sympathy with the children and elderly,” said Farah Hassan.

Witnesses elsewhere reported roads blocked by sand and logs.

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