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Somali mosque attack leaves 10 dead

June 17, 2009
 
MOGADISHU, Somalia  (UPI) -- A mortar attack on a Mogadishu mosque Wednesday left at least 10 people dead while heavy fighting killed at least 15 and wounded 65 more, Somali officials said.

The BBC reported it was unclear who fired the mortar round that struck the mosque but at least 10 had died in the attack. More than 250 combatants and civilians have been killed since violence escalated last month, the British network said.

Dadir Ali Jes, who saw the mosque attack, told the BBC he believed at least 13 people died in what he called "the most terrible incident."

Officials and witnesses said battles between Islamic militants and government troops north and south of Mogadishu had left at least 15 dead and 65 wounded, Shabelle Media Network reported.

Among those killed, officials said, was Mogadishu's police chief, Col. Ali Said, who had frequently been seen at the front lines in battles against Islamic fundamentalists, the BBC reported.

Many of the victims of Wednesday's fighting were civilians. The British broadcaster said residents could be seen running across the streets and taking shelter behind walls as heavy gunfire blasted through south Mogadishu's Hodan area.

"This is the strongest fighting we've seen in recent months," resident Asha Mo'alim told the BBC. "We're ducking in our rooms."

Witnesses said fighters from the radical al-Shabaab Islamic group, wearing headscarves and carrying ammunition belts over their shoulders, were spotted entering the capital from outlying areas to join in the battle.