[QODLink]
Africa
Dozens killed in Mogadishu fighting
Fighting between al-Shabab, Somali and African Union troops enters second day.
Last Modified: 21 Aug 2009 23:41 GMT
Residents said most of the 62 people killed in the clashes were civilians [AFP]

At least 24 people have been killed in the Somali capital of Mogadishu after Islamist rebels fought Somali government and African Union troops for a second day.

Residents hid in their homes as mortar bombs fired by fighters from al-Shabab, the group battling to remove the government, hit the city on Friday.

Six people died when mortars exploded as traders were setting up their stalls in a market.

Another 18 corpses were recovered after the attacks, ambulance staff said.

"Hundreds of well-armed insurgents came to our district with minibuses and pick-up trucks and immediately they started firing towards the government troops and an African Union base," Mogadishu resident Abdi Haji Ahmed said.

"We have been ducking under our concrete balcony for hours."

Another resident said: "We did not sleep since yesterday because of the huge numbers of shells targeting this neighborhood. We call upon God to end our ordeals."

Rebels 'provoked'

Al-Shabab spokesman Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage said his forces retaliated against the African Union troops for earlier rolling into rebel-controlled areas.

"They provoked us by coming into our areas, so we have a right to attack them in their bases," Rage said.

The government and African Union had no immediate comment.

The attacks came a day after 40 people, mostly civilians, died as the two sides sought to gain ground in strategic towns.

Violence and anarchy

The fighting began on Thursday in Bula Burte, about 210km north of the capital, when government soldiers moved into the town controlled by al-Shabab.

The US says al-Shabab, which is fighting to remove the current transitional federal government and impose sharia, or Islamic law, has ties to al-Qaeda, a claim the group denies.

About 4,000 African Union peace keepers from Burundi and Uganda are stationed in Mogadishu to protect government installations.

They have occasionally clashed with al-Shabab fighters as they try to ward of the fighters' advance.

Somalia has been ravaged by violence and anarchy since warlords overthrew Mohamed Siad Barre, a former dictator, in 1991, before turning on each other.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Anti-government secrecy organisation struggling for relevance without Julian Assange at the helm.
After decades of overfishing, Japan is taking aim at increasing the number of bluefin tuna in the ocean.
Chinese scientists are designing a particle-smashing collider so massive it could encircle a city.
Critics say the government is going full-steam ahead on economic recovery at the expense of human rights.
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.