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Somalia clashes kill 15 civilians


Friday, July 03, 2009

MOGADISHU (AFP) — Heavy clashes between Somali government troops and hardline militia in the war-torn capital Mogadishu killed at least 15 civilians Friday, witnesses said.

The government troops launched an offensive to dislodge the Shebab and other hardline fighters from positions in Mogadishu's Karan district which they had seized in recent battles.

"I have seen the bodies of six people who were killed by stray bullets. Three of them are from the same family," Ahmed Abdi Mumin, an elder in Karan, told AFP.

Another resident, Hassan Abdullahi, said four people were killed at a former navy barracks in the district.

Five others, including a child also died in the clashes, according to residents.

"We will bury them today even without being identified," said Moalim Hassan Alas.

The Shebab and Hezb al-Islam, a more political group, launched an unprecedented nationwide offensive in May against the administration of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

The internationally backed Sharif has been holed up in his presidential quarters, protected by African Union peacekeepers as his forces were unable to reassert their authority over the capital.

Around 300 people are confirmed to have been killed in the latest violence.

Source: AFP, July 03, 2009