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Africa
Civilians killed in Somalia clashes
Mortar fire kills women and children, as well as destroying homes, in Mogadishu.
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2010 14:46 GMT
Thousands of new AU soldiers will bolster the roughly 6,000-man peacekeeping force [EPA]

At least 17 civilians have been killed in fighting between the Somali government and al-Shabab fighters in Mogadishu.

The fighting took place in the capital's Taleh district, which was hit by a number of mortars fired by both sides.

Several homes were destroyed, and scores were injured, according to reports from local officials.

"The ambulance servicemen collected 10 civilian bodies and 46 others who were injured in the clashes yesterday afternoon," Ali Musa, the head of Mogadishu's ambulance services, said.

A stray shell also landed in the Bakara market area in central Somalia. A paramedic told the Bloomberg news agency that several women and children were wounded.

'Urgent attention'

The Transitional Federal Government (TFG), backed by African Union peacekeepers, controls only a small portion of the capital.

Similar clashes - between armed opposition groups on one side, and the government and AU on the other - happen on almost a daily basis, often resulting in civilian casualties.

An internal AU report disclosed last week called for "urgent attention" to the problem of civilian casualties, warning that the peacekeeping force risks losing public support in Somalia.

At an African Union summit in Kampala this week, the organisation decided to send another 4,000 soldiers to Somalia to bolster the roughly 6,000-man force.

Somali officials on Wednesday praised that decision, calling it a "lifeline" for their government.

"We applaud the fresh troop infusions made by AU states," Abdulkadir Mohamoud Walayo, a spokesman for the government, said.

"We believe this decision will help improve the security situation in Somalia, and also contain the threat al-Qaeda elements are posing to the region in general."

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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