Somali police patrol the streets of Mogadishu, September 2007. (AFP/File)

Hundreds of families fled Mogadishu Sunday following an upsurge in violence pitting Islamist insurgents against Somali security forces and Ethiopian troops, an AFP correspondent reported.

The latest bout of fighting in the Somali capital appeared to have prompted a fresh wave of displacement, as civilians could be seen across entire neighbourhoods loading pick-up trucks and donkey carts with household items.

“No one can endure what is happening in Mogadishu, it’s non-stop violence and it’s taking hundreds of lives every week,” said southern Mogadishu resident Abdurahman Nure, speaking to AFP from the back of a Land Cruiser as he left the city with his children.

The latest spate of attacks by insurgents has drawn Ethiopian and Somali troops deep into the streets of Mogadishu since Saturday, and residents are complaining of a rise in daytime violence.

The Ethiopian army came to the rescue of Somalia’s embattled transitional government last year to defeat the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), a fundamentalist militia that briefly controlled large parts of the country.

Since the militia was ousted earlier this year, its remnants and allied tribal leaders have waged a guerrilla-style war, carrying out hit-and-run attacks, mainly by night and in Mogadishu.

“The insurgents are attacking the government and Ethiopian forces almost everyday now,” said Fartun Adan Mohamed, a single mother, as she dragged her three children out of the war-ravaged city.

“Whenever this happens, we civilians are the target for the Ethiopian army as well the Somali forces, so fleeing is the only option we have,” she said.

An AFP correspondent saw hundreds of people leaving the restive neighbourhoods of Ali Kamin and Hamar-Jadid, in the south of the seaside capital.

Mogadishu residents have been fleeing Mogadishu in several major waves in recent months, arriving in droves in neighbouring towns already plagued by dire food shortages.