Italy evacuated its embassy in the battle-scarred capital of Somalia on Saturday and flew about 200 people, including the mission's staff, to safety in neighboring Kenya.

Airport sources in the Kenyan port of Mombasa said some of the evacuees were injured, but could provide no further details.The U.S. ambassador to Somalia was among about 180 other foreign evacuees who arrived Saturday in Germany after a six-day journey.

More than 1,000 foreigners have fled the Horn of Africa nation since a rebel offensive was launched Dec. 30 against the 21-year rule of President Mohamed Siad Barre.

Rebels claim that more than 1,500 people have been killed around the capital, Mogadishu, since the fighting began.

The insurgents promise a democratic government based on multiparty system and a form of district and regional autonomy.

They claim they control most of the city except the airport, where they say Siad Barre is holed up. Other reports have said Siad Barre escaped to the United Arab Emirates, but they were later denied.

Somalia's foreign minister, Ahmed Mohammed Adeb Qaybeh, was quoted in Cairo on Saturday as saying Siad Barre was in Somalia and still in control.