Nine die in Mogadishu fighting
30 November 2010, 20:04
Mogadishu - Witnesses said that heavy fighting between African Union forces protecting Somalia's fragile government and Islamist rebels killed at least nine people in Mogadishu on Tuesday.
Reports said many of the people had been killed in the Bakara market in southern Mogadishu, which was struck by mortars fired by the AU forces.
The head of Mogadishu's ambulance service, Ali Muse, said: "Our medical team has collected nine people who were killed in the shelling in the Bakara market and neighbourhoods in northern Mogadishu's Karan district. They also reported 21 injured."
Other witnesses said as many as 11 people were killed in the latest fighting.
"The African forces started firing heavy artillery shells at Bakara and other neighbourhoods after fighting broke out at their positions in the Hodan and Karan districts. I saw 11 people killed in the shelling, five of them in one spot at Bakara," said an eye-witness, Omar Moalim Adan.
Somali government forces denied accusations by residents that the AU troops - comprising Ugandan and Burundian soldiers - were firing indiscriminately at residential areas.
"The violent elements were firing mortars and anti-aircraft weapons during the fighting and the African Union troops returned fire. But I can assure you that they never targeted civilian populated areas," said Abdi Isa, a government security official.
Heavy fighting between the two sides has killed hundreds of ordinary citizens and driven tens of thousands of others from the capital.
The Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab insurgents and an allied militant group have waged attacks to overthrow Somalia's transitional government, but have been unable to do so due to the backing by the AU contingent, which numbers more than 7 000 troops.