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Somali Capital Rocked by Gunfire, Shelling: At Least 15 Dead

By Hamsa Omar

June 20 (Bloomberg) -- At least 15 people were killed in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, yesterday when Islamist insurgents and government soldiers aided by Ethiopian troops exchanged mortar and machinegun fire, eyewitnesses said.

The fighting began when Islamist rebels attacked Gulwada Yasha camp in northern Mogadishu, where government solders are stationed, they said. Another battle began when the rebels attacked a soccer stadium being used as a base by Ethiopian soldiers.

The police and the army weren't able to comment immediately when contacted by Bloomberg News yesterday. Residents say the fighting was the heaviest seen in more than a month.

Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia in December 2006, ousting an Islamist alliance from Mogadishu and installing a transitional federal government. That government has struggled to control parts of the capital because of an insurgency by Islamist and clan-based militias.

``Two women died and eight others including six children of one of the woman were seriously injured when a mortar bomb exploded in their home in the Laba Dhagah district,'' Osman Olow, an uncle of the children, said by phone from the city today. Another three children died in a similar incident nearby, Fadumo Abdi, who lived with the family, said.

Islamist rebels killed 10 soldiers and lost two of their own men during the battles, Abdi Rahen Isee Adow, Islamic Courts spokesman said. After the fighting eased, Ethiopian troops and government soldiers erected road blocks throughout Mogadishu, according to residents.

---Editors: Athol Bolleurs, Peter Torday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Hamsa Omar in Mogadishu via Johannesburg at [email protected].


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