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7 civilians killed in battle for Mogadishu
Sat, 08 Jan 2011 21:10:01 GMT
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Al-Shabab fighters conduct military exercises in northern Mogadishu. (file photo)
At least seven civilians have been killed and several others were injured in heavy clashes between Somali government troops and al-Shabab fighters in Mogadishu.

On Saturday, a battle broke out between al-Shabab fighters and transitional government troops, backed by African Union forces, in the northern district of Hodan, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Witnesses said that a barrage of mortar shells hit mainly residential areas in the Hodan district and caused civilian casualties.

"I saw the dead bodies of seven civilians lying near an intersection around Bakara Market -- the biggest and busiest market in Mogadishu," said an eyewitness, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991, when warlords overthrew former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

Over the past two decades, up to one million people have lost their lives in the fighting between rival factions and due to famine and disease.

There are more than 1.4 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in Somalia. Over 300,000 IDPs are sheltering in Mogadishu alone.

Most of the displaced live in poor and degrading conditions on makeshift sites in southern and central Somalia, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

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