Page last updated at 16:07 GMT, Thursday, 25 March 2010

Somali troops demolish homes near Mogadishu airport

Refugees in Mogadishu (file photo)
About half the population of Mogadishu have fled their homes

Somali security agents have demolished some 500 houses near the airport in the capital, Mogadishu, amid concerns they could be used as cover for an attack.

A BBC reporter says hundreds of people were sitting in the open in the Afisoyoni suburb, saying they had nowhere else to go.

Mogadishu's mayor has said the makeshift homes could be used by militants from the al-Shabab group.

The airport is one of the few areas run by the UN-backed government.

Al-Shabab controls much of southern Somalia.

The BBC's Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says most Afisoyoni residents have already fled fighting in other parts of the city.

The government says it will provide land for those whose homes have been destroyed.

But our reporter says there is no evidence of this.

He says the airport has come under attack several times in the past - but never from this suburb.

Mayor Abdurisaq Mohamed Nor ordered the homes to be demolished earlier this week.

About half of Mogadishu's residents have fled their homes after two decades of conflict.

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