(RTTNews) - At least 12 people, mostly civilians, were killed in a fresh round of fighting betweenSomali government
government forces and Islamist insurgents in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Wednesday, according to officials and local media reports.
Both sides reportedly exchanged automatic weapon and mortar fire during the clash, which also left more than 45 others injured. Witnesses said most of the casualties happened after a mortar crashed into the jewelry section of the capital's largest market.
A spokesman for the insurgent group claimed later that its fighters had briefly captured some positions held by the government forces and destroyed at least one armored vehicle. The government forces, however, insisted that none of their members suffered any injuries in the fighting.
Such clashes between government troops and rebels are common in Somalia. Continued fighting between insurgents and the pro-government security forces had killed thousands of Somalis and displaced hundreds of thousands more, mostly from Mogadishu.
Somalia has been without a functioning government since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre's government in 1991. Currently, a weak U.N.-backed interim government under President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed is struggling to enforce its authority in the country.
While the interim government's control is limited to certain pockets in and around Mogadishu, the hard-line Islamist insurgent outfits control large parts of southern Somalia, where they enforce strict Islamic laws or the Sharia.
Al-Shabaab, military wing of the Islamist movement ousted by Ethiopia-backed Somali forces in 2006, and several other allied militant groups have opposed past U.N.-sponsored reconciliation efforts in Somalia, insisting that they will negotiate with the country's transitional government only after the African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission leaves Somalia.
The al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam were united until recently in their fight against the forces of Somalia's interim government and the AU peacekeeping troops. But the two groups are currently engaged in fierce fighting for the control of the southern port city of Kismayo.
Presently, a 6,100-member AU force is struggling with peacekeeping efforts after the militants turned to guerrilla warfare against the government and AU troops. So far only Uganda and Burundi have contributed troops to the AU peacekeeping force, which was initially planned with a strength of over 8,000.
(RTTNews) - However, the AU has pledged an additional 2,000-strong force for the Somali peacekeeping mission after the al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the twin suicide attacks that left 74 people dead in the Ugandan capital Kampala on July 11.by RTT Staff Writer
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