Twenty years of civil war has devastated Somalia and forced thousands to flee their homes [AFP]

Al-Shabab fighters have attacked African Union peacekeepers' position in the capital Mogadishu, sparking heavy shelling at the populous Bakara market, which claimed the lives of at least nice civilians, and injuring at least three.

Al Jazeera's Mohammed Adow said the death toll "is likely to rise."

The attack coincides with the return of President Ahmed to Mogadishu from New York, where he participated in the UN General Assembly last week.

The Saturday attack by the al-Qaeda-inspired group is part of a campaign by Al Shabab to dislodge the African Union peacekeepers from Somalia, and to overthrow the government of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

The attack coincides with the return of President Ahmed to Mogadishu from New York, where he participated the General Assembly.

A spokesman of the African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu told Al Jazeera that the situation is now under control.

Somalia's UN-backed government controls only a few parts of the shattered nation, with al-Shabab and other hardline rebel groups controlling most of southern and central Somalia.

Somalia has been racked by violence for more than two decades and hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes, creating one of the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Source: Al Jazeera