Somalia MPs flee assassinations

Hardline Islamists have been battling pro-government forces since 7 May

Scores of Somali politicians have fled the war-torn Horn of Africa nation in the last month amid escalating clashes.
As few as 280 MPs remain, with 250 needed to make a quorum in the 550-seat assembly, based in the capital.
One MP quit on Wednesday warning the chamber was doomed and 20 others have gone to Kenya in the last week after several high-profile assassinations.
Meanwhile, casualties of recent unrest have had to be flown to Kenya because hospitals in Mogadishu cannot cope.
About 56 patients, mainly government forces, wounded in fighting over the last week have been flown to Nairobi for treatment.
Since 7 May, an alliance of militant Islamist hardliners, which controls parts of the capital and much of southern Somalia, has been locked in ferocious battles with pro-government forces in Mogadishu.
New radio station

It also emerged on Wednesday that the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia, Amisom, is to set up a radio station in Mogadishu.
The station will support embattled President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's fragile transitional government.
Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists and many reporters faced with death threats have either fled or will not risk working in the country.
Since the latest bout of fighting began last month, 130 lawmakers, including several ministers, have fled to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

About 20 legislators have made their way there in the last week alone, during which time a fellow MP was gunned down, a security minister was killed in a suicide blast, and Mogadishu's police chief was died in battle.
On Wednesday, Abdullah Haji Ali, an MP for Somaliland, resigned, predicting the parliament was doomed to fail amid the deteriorating security situation and that nine of his colleagues were also ready to go.
Dozens of other Somali MPs are abroad - some in neighbouring Djibouti and others in Europe and the US - with only about 50 on official visits, according to Reuters news agency.
Refugee crisis
The BBC Somali Service says one cannot rule out the possibility of the parliament losing so many MPs it will lack a quorum - threatening the UN-backed government's ability to function formally.
Civilians have borne the brunt of the recent violence and many are fleeing

But analysts reckon the president's position will probably remain safe, as long as the African Union's 4,300 troops stay in Mogadishu.
At the weekend, Somalia's interim government urged neighbouring countries to send troops to help.
The Kenyan government says it has not yet decided whether to intervene.
Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said if Mogadishu falls to the radical Islamists, the consequences would be very grave.
Kenya has a 1,200-km (745-mile) border with Somalia and every day hundreds of refugees try to cross into Kenya.
BBC world affairs correspondent Adam Mynott says Kenya already has more than 300,000 displaced people in camps close to the border.
Ethiopia, another neighbour, which pulled its troops out of Somalia in January after two years, has said it will not intervene again unless it has a "firm international mandate".
President Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, took office in January but even his introduction of Sharia law to the strongly Muslim country has not appeased the guerrillas.
Somalia has been without an effective government since 1991.