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Seven civilians killed in Somali fire fight

AABartamaha (Mogadishu):- At least seven Somali civilians were killed Saturday in a fire fight between African Union forces and hardline Islamist rebels, medical officials said.

The Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab rebels fired mortar rounds at the presidential palace and the airport shortly after President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s plane landed, prompting a retaliation by the AU troops.

The civilians were killed by artillery that struck Mogadishu’s main Bakara market and vehicles.

“At least seven civilians, two of them women, were killed and 31 others injured during heavy exchange of artillery and mortar fire today,” said Ali Muse, the head of Mogadishu’s ambulance service.

Mohamed Sadik, a witness, said he saw several bodies of civilians trapped in a minibus behind which he was riding a motorbike.

“The scene was very horrible and almost everyone in that minibus was injured,” he said.

Civilians have borne the brunt of the relentless clashes between the AU forces and the Shebab rebels bent on toppling Sharif’s government.

The AU troops, numbering some 7,200 soldiers, remain the only obstacle between the Shebab and a total take-over of Mogadishu, where the Western-backed government has been confined to just a few blocs by the near-daily clashes.





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