Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fighting Escalates in Mogadishu Between AMISOM and Resistance Forces

Deaths in Mogadishu street battles

Fighting between AU forces and al-Shabab leaves up to 20 dead and scores wounded in Somali capital

23 Sep 2010 11:43 GMT

Al-Shabab fighters have repeatedly clashed with government forces and AU peacekeepers in Mogadishu

At least 20 people have been killed and 70 others injured in a series of street battles in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, sources say.

Shells fired by African Union (AU) peacekeepers hit Bakara market, in central Mogadishu, during Thursday's fighting, Al Jazeera has learned.

"Heavy artillery shelling is ongoing and has left 70 people wounded", Al Jazeera's Jama Nur reported from Mogadishu.

The violence started early on Thursday morning when AU troops clashed with anti-government fighters in the south of Mogadishu.

The street battles in Mogadishu are the latest in a string of deadly incidents to hit the Horn of Africa nation.

A suicide bomber blew himself up on Monday at the gates of the presidential palace in Mogadishu, an attack blamed by the Somali police on al-Shabab, Somalia's main anti-government group.

Al-Shabaab has been fighting the fragile transitional government for three years and now controls much of Mogadishu and huge tracts of southern and central Somalia.

Devastating effect

Somalia has been plagued by anarchy since regional commanders toppled Mohamed Siad Barre from power in 1991. Pirates are active in its coastal waters and have driven up shipping costs in the Gulf of Aden.

Anti-government fighters have used suicide bombers to devastating effect over the past two years, killing five government ministers and dozens of AU keeping troops. Al-Shabab was also behind attacks in Uganda in July that killed at least 79 people.

The AU forces in Mogadishu have focused their manpower on shielding the president and guarding the sea port and airport from attacks.

Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the current president, is a former opposition leader. He is seen by al-Shabab as a Western puppet, and is locked in a power struggle with Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke, the prime minister, who has been under intense pressure to step down in recent months.

Source: Al Jazeera

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