(CNN) -- Bodies littered the streets of the third largest city in Somalia on Friday after Islamic fighters took control of the city, residents said. Fighters from the armed Islamic group Al Shabaab took control of Kismayo, a port city in southern Somalia of 700,000, after fighting between tribal militias. Kismayo is 28 miles southwest of Somalia's capital of Mogadishu. Halimo Mohamed Hassan, a mother in Kismayo's Alaney neighborhood, said six bodies were in front of her house.
"Kismayu is under our control. We overpowered them and concluded the fighting," Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, the al-Shabaab spokesman, told Reuters by telephone. Since the start of last year, al-Shabaab rebels have been waging an Iraq-style insurgency of mortar attacks, roadside bombings and assassinations, targeting the fragile interim administration and its Ethiopian military allies. This year, Washington officially listed al-Shabaab as a terrorist organisation with close ties to al Qaeda.
The United States sees Somalia as a training ground for extremists and says radical Islamist leaders have made much of it a safe haven for high level suspects, including the bombers of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania a decade ago.
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Mosque, market become 'human butcher houses'
MOGADISHU, Somalia (CNN) -- Heavy shelling struck Somalia's capital city on Thursday, leaving pools of blood around a neighborhood mosque, a devastated market and 11 civilians dead, according to witnesses and a local journalist
Many of the dead were preparing for prayers at the Abu Hureyra mosque, which was packed with worshippers, according to Sheikh Abdullahi Omar, whose leg was wounded by shrapnel fro the al-Shabaab terrorists.
"Body parts of the worshippers are scattered all over," he said. Local photo journalist Hassan Ahmed Haji rushed to the the mosque after the apparent mortar shell blast and saw six bodies. He said it was a frightening scene.
Mogadishu's main market also came under attack, as vendors fled for their lives amid a continuous barrage of shelling that left five dead, witnesses told Haji.
"Bakaraha market has turned into a human butcher house today," said Hawa Hamud Abdi, a meat trader who survived the attack. She said a mother and child were among those killed. She spoke as mortar shells and artillery fire rained down on the market.
Clashes between Islamic insurgents of the Al-Shabaab and Somali and Ethiopian soldiers (backed by the USA) also raged around Suuqa Holaha, a neighborhood in northeast Mogadishu. Fighting also continued in Folarensa junction, an intersection near the presidential palace.
"From 9 a.m. this morning, the fighting has intensified, with both sides using a lot of heavy guns including anti-aircraft guns," she said. "My children and I took cover under our beds and we stayed for three hours, till the situation subsided."
Hassan said heavily-armed Islamist militias remained on the streets, and the rival clan militia are rumored to have left the city in defeat. "There is (a) very harsh humanitarian crisis in the city," said Ali Bashi Abdullahi Igal, head of Fanole human rights group. "The fighting has displaced more than 5,500 people from the city."
Fifteen civilians were killed on Friday, he said, including a mother and her two children, ages 3 and 5, who were crushed in their house when it collapsed under heavy anti-aircraft fire. More than 70 people were killed and 168 wounded in three days of heavy fighting between Al Shabaab and tribal militias. "We are condemning this inhumane acts of violence," Igal said. "Both sides have breached the international laws."
There is a lack of medical care for the wounded, with only one doctor and two nurses at the city's only operational hospital, he said. Civilians are "suffering at the hospital," Igal said.