At least 20 people were killed in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu in violence between the country’s UN-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Al Qaeda-linked insurgents, Radio Garowe reports.
The fighting started Wednesday night and continued into Thursday morning, with witnesses reporting that at least 8 people killed and 10 wounded in Mogadishu’s Bakara Market, which has been a major insurgent stronghold since 2007.
African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM), who are backing TFG forces in Mogadishu, reportedly responded with artillery shells on insurgent positions after Al Shabaab fighters attacked AMISOM troops based along the key Maka Al Mukarrama Road used by government officials.
Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu Musab, Al Shabaab insurgents’ military spokesman, claimed that the insurgents “killed a number of AMISOM soldiers” but he did not provide any specific details at a press conference in Mogadishu.
AMISOM commanders contacted by Somali media declined to comment on the fighting, which Mogadishu locals described as “the worst fighting” since Ramadan month when over 1,000 people were killed in Mogadishu attacks, including hundreds of insurgents.
Mogadishu is home to an 8,000-strong AU peacekeeping force, which protects TFG institutions including the presidential palace, the seaport and the airport.
But insurgents control vast regions in south-central Somalia, including many districts in Mogadishu where they launch daily attacks on AU and TFG locations.