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Heavy clashes in Mogadishu leaves 15 dead

Thursday, July 02, 2009

MOGADISHU, July 1 (Xinhua) -- Fifteen people were killed and more than 40 others were wounded in Mogadishu on Wednesday in renewed heavy fighting between insurgent fighters and Somali government forces who gained new grounds in the latest clashes, witnesses and officials said.

The fighting broke out in the south Mogadishu district of Karanafter Somali government forces tried to retake positions previously lost to insurgent fighters of the Al-Shabaab Islamist movement and Hezbul Islam opposed to the Somali government.

Ambulance services in Mogadishu and witnesses near the battle areas said 15 people, mostly civilians, were killed while more than 40 others were wounded in the intense battle in which artillery and heavy machine guns were used by both sides.

Reports from the battle grounds said Somali government forces have made some headway in regaining lost positions from insurgent fighters in the latest clashes.

"We have captured part of Karan and a main road in the area in the fighting. Several insurgents died on the government onslaught which will continue until all anti-peace elements are repelled," Yusuf Gaab, a government military commander, told Xinhua.

The latest government successes come nearly two months after the start of the insurgent advances into Somali government-held territory in the south and north of the restive capital, Mogadishu.

The United States last week announced it had given the Somali government almost 40 tons of weapons and ammunitions to help it repel insurgent fighters who threaten to overthrow the government.

 Nearly 250 people including senior Somali government officials were killed in the last two months of intense confrontations between the internationally recognized government and insurgents of Al-Shabaab and Hezbul Islam who control much of southern and central regions of the war wrecked Horn of Africa country.

Somalia, a country plagued by nearly two decades of civil conflict, has been without a strong central government since the overthrow of strongman Mohamed Siyad Barre in 1991.

Source: Xinhua, July 2, 2009