22 August 2009

Somalia: Nine Dead in Mogadishu Clashes

Mogadishu — At least nine people were killed Saturday in the Somali capital Mogadishu in the second consecutive day of battles, Radio Garowe reports.

More than 12 other people were wounded in the fighting, which erupted at a government checkpoint on the key southern road that links Mogadishu to Afgoye, an agricultural town in Lower Shabelle region under the control of insurgents.

Locals said the fighting erupted in the morning and lasted for nearly two hours, with both sides using machineguns and heavy bombs. Al Shabaab insurgents briefly seized control of the checkpoint, witnesses reported.

African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) based at the compound of Somali National University "joined the fight" to help government forces retake control of the important checkpoint.

There were no AMISOM casualties, but all the nine dead victims were Somali soldiers or insurgents, medical sources said.

Yusuf Mohamed "Indha Ade," the former warlord of Lower Shabelle, told a press conference that government forces were victorious in the battle and claimed to have captured "new territory." Mr. Indha Ade was recently appointed at the Somali government's state minister for defense.

Al Shabaab has not spoken publicly about the new fighting, but the battles come a day after upwards of 30 people were killed in fierce clashes yesterday. READ: 31 dead in Mogadishu battles and bombs

Somalia's capital Mogadishu is home to AMISOM-backed government forces and gunmen loyal to two insurgent factions, Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam.

The insurgency has threatened to overthrow the Horn of Africa country's internationally recognized government, which is weak and has been cornered to a few neighborhoods of Mogadishu.

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