There has been a heavy death toll amid intense clashes in Somalia.
Government and African Union troops are trying to defend what little they control of the capital Mogadishu.
Al-Qaeda affiliated insurgents stepped up an offensive against them on Tuesday, ahead of Thursday’s 50th anniversary of the country’s independence.
Precise figures on casualties are hard to come by but rescue services have spoken of at least two dozen killed in the capital since Tuesday. Fighting in the last three and a half years has claimed more than 21,000 lives across the country.
The insurgents control the vast majority of south and central Somalia. The president, who is backed by the UN but whose brittle government is confined to a small pocket of Mogadishu, has reportedly joined the front line of the conflict.