SOMALIA: 12 killed in fresh Mogadishu fighting

Published: July 5, 2010

Clashes erupted between Somali Islamists and government troops Sunday while a bomb targeted a senior official, with at least 12 people killed in the violence, officials and witnesses said.
Rebels from the Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab movement attacked barracks housing local troops and African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu, sparking a heavy exchange of machinegun and artillery fire that left seven civilians dead.
“Artillery fire struck a house in Shibis district and killed five people, three of them from the same family, 16 others were also injured in other incidents in the neighborhood,” said witness Adan Muhidin.
He said most of the victims were civilians trapped in the area since the latest wave of fighting in the Abdulaziz and Shibis districts of northern Mogadishu started Thursday.
Another witness, Aisha Mohamed Isa, said he saw two other civilians caught in the crossfire, including an elderly woman killed in her house. Several other witnesses confirmed the casualties.
A Shebab spokesman in Mogadishu, Sheikh Abdaziz Abu-Musab, claimed victory in Sunday’s clashes.
“We attacked the barracks of the Christian forces supported by the apostate government militias this morning, we pushed them back and by the will of Allah, our forces have the upper hand,” Abu-Musab told reporters.
Somali information ministry spokesman Abdirisak Qeylow confirmed the fighting but denied his forces were defeated.
Separately a roadside bomb hit the car of a senior finance ministry official in southern Mogadishu’s Hamarweyn district on Sunday, killing five people, including three Somali government troops.
“The official escaped the attack which was aimed to eliminate him,” said district commissioner Abdulahi Ibrahim Sahal.
The casualties come after 31 people were killed in fighting on Thursday and Friday in Mogadishu.
The hardline Islamist Shebab control most of the country and have been locked in a military see-saw with the Western-backed government for months for control of the seaside capital.
Somalia has been wracked by civil war since 1991.
Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

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