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Eleven die in Mogadishu shelling
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08:42, July 23, 2009

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Eleven people were killed and more than 30 others wounded on Wednesday in heavy artillery exchange between the Somali government forces backed by the African Union peacekeepers and insurgent fighters in Mogadishu, health officials and residents said.

The two sides traded heavy shelling in a number of residential districts in the south and north of Mogadishu as machine gun fire was also heard around Hawlwadag, Wardigley and Bondere districts, residents said.

"We have so far ferried 33 wounded people to hospitals while the ambulance drivers reported seeing almost eleven dead civilians in different areas of the city," Ali Muse, a paramedic with Nationlink and Lifeline Africa ambulance service told Xinhua.

Muse said he expected the causality figures to rise as people were calling for the ambulances to take wounded people in various areas of the restive coastal city of Somalia.

The sound of the heavy artillery and machine gunfire could be heard across the city as both sides bounded each other's positions.

It was not immediately clear who or what instigated the duel as neither side was available for comment of the latest clashes.

Islamist rebels of Al-Shabaab and Hezbul Islam groups, considered by the Somali government as terrorist entities, have for the past two years been fighting the Somali government forces and the nearly 4,300 AU peacekeeping forces who are mainly from Uganda and Burundi.

The two movements, which together control much of southern and central Somalia, want to topple the internationally recognized Somali government and force the AU troops out of the war-torn country.

The Islamist groups want to establish an Islamic state in Somalia and implement stricter form of the Islamic Sharia law.

Source: Xinhua

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