Fighting in Somali Capital Kills 17

Posted June 2nd, 2011 at 10:40 am (UTC-5)
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New clashes in Somalia's capital have killed at least 17 people, as pro-government troops continue to battle militants for control of a popular commercial site.

Somali government troops backed by African Union peacekeepers are trying to take Mogadishu's Bakara market from al-Shabab insurgents.

Medical officials say heavy fighting between the two sides Thursday has also wounded at least 40 people.

In recent days, pro-government troops have advanced to the market's perimeter and set up positions there. The al-Qaida-linked insurgents remain entrenched inside.

Bakara market is a strategically important site because it is the center of Mogadishu's business district.

Al-Shabab has controlled much of the capital and large sections of central and southern Somalia for at least three years.

However, government and African Union forces have retaken parts of Mogadishu in an offensive that began in February.

Al-Shabab is trying to overthrow the United Nations-backed government and set up a strict Islamic state.