Fighting erupts in Somali capital

2011-08-07 22:15

Mogadishu - Fighting erupted on Sunday in Mogadishu between government troops and al-Shabaab insurgents a day after the rebels said they were leaving the Somali capital and the government declared it controlled most of the city, residents and officials said.

A spokesperson for the African Union peace keeping force, Amisom, said al-Shabaab fighters had attacked them in one district late on Saturday, but that they and the government now controlled most of Mogadishu.

After al-Shabaab started its withdrawal, President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed said his troops had defeated the rebels intent on overthrowing his Western-backed government.

Al-Shabaab, which has its stronghold in the south of the anarchic country, denied this and said it would re-group and fight on.

Somalia has been without effective central government since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre 20 years ago, and is now suffering mass hunger from the worst drought in decades. Peace remains a distant prospect.

"Last night al-Shabaab fired mortars and attacked us... they were not so strong, we chased them immediately," an Amisom spokesperson, Captain Ndayiragije Come, told Reuters on Sunday.

"Amisom and the government forces now control 90% of the capital. We are very sure we shall uproot the few al-Shabaab elements remaining in the few parts of the capital."