Somalia's spiralling instability has reached the capital, Mogadishu. Somali sources say that at least 17 people were killed and 61 injured in fighting between government forces and opposition fighters on Thursday.

The opposition Al-Shabab group, which recently announced that it was joining al-Qaeda's international jihad, is pushing to oust the weak Western-backed government and controls much of Mogadishu and south-central Somalia.

The government says it is fighting back, but with opposition groups controlling most of the country, is it fighting a losing battle?

So just who is fuelling the conflict this time around and is the country becoming a battleground in the fight against al-Qaeda? And what is the fallout across the Horn of Africa?

Inside Story presenter Hoda AbdelHamid is joined by Zakariya Mahmud Haji-Abdi, the chairman of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia, Muhdin Mohammed Ali, the founder and director of the Centre for Somali Policy, and Ahmed Samatar, the dean of the Institute for Global Citizenship at Macalester College in Mineapolis.

This episode of Inside Story aired on Sunday, February 14.

Source: Al Jazeera