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Violence in Somalia's capital kills 22 people

Saturday, August 22, 2009

At least 22 people were killed as Somali government and African Union troops battled Islamist rebels in Mogadishu over the past two days.

The attacks started when the insurgent group al-Shabaab, which is trying to overthrow the government, started firing mortar bombs in the capital on Friday. The onslaught was apparently provoked by African Union troops, who had earlier entered rebel-controlled territories.

Political map of Somalia (updated July 2009)

"They provoked us by coming into our areas, so we have a right to attack them in their bases," al-Shabaab spokesman Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage said.

Six people died following the explosion of mortars near market stalls in Mogadishu. Ambulance staff said that over a dozen bodies were found after the incident.

Abdi Haji Ahmed, a resident of the city, was a witness to the event.

"Hundreds of well-armed insurgents came to our district with minibuses and pick-up trucks and immediately they started firing towards the government troops and an African Union base," he said. "We have been ducking under our concrete balcony for hours."

Somalia has been plagued by violence since the last stable government, led by dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, was overthrown in 1991 by warlords.


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