Tanks rained gunfire onto the rebels' post, littering the streets with spent catridges and shrapnel and shattered buildings, leaving them with bullet holes, in a scene resembling the aftermath of an earthquake, the correspondent added.
"We have taken control of the position where the terrorists used to arrange their attacks," said Mohamed Nur, a Somali government security official.
"Our forces, getting assistance from the African peacekeepers, are now gaining military momentum in northern Mogadishu.
"The enemy completely emptied their positions here in northern Mogadishu after being forced to retreat. Three of our soldiers are injured so far," Nur added.
Two AU tanks and six other armoured vehicles were followed by an army of Somali government troops. A bulldozer was seen filling trenches dug across the streets by the insurgents.Several other witnesses also said more than 20 civilians were killed."A mother and her three children were among the dead in Jamhuriya neighborhood. An artillery shell struck their house," a local resident Said Yusuf told AFP.In January, Mogadishu residents started fleeing ahead of the planned government offensive but the assault never came and some civilians have started returning to the war-battered capital.Since taking control of much of Mogadishu after bloody clashes last year, the hardline rebels have repeatedly carried out deadly attacks against the peacekeepers and the government troops.Civilians have borne the worst brunt of the relentless fighting, many of them caught in crossfire or killed by mortar shells fired in retaliation to attacks by the insurgents who live in residential areas , The al-Qaida-linked Shebab, who control 80 per cent of south and central Somalia, vowed to topple the internationally-backed government, which owes its survival to the African Union forces.Somalia has been wracked by two decades of bloody violence sparked by the toppling of president Mohamed Siad Barre.