MOGADISHU (AFP) – Clashes in Somalia pitting Islamist radicals against government troops backed by African Union forces have killed at least six civilians and wounded 16, officials and medical sources said Monday.
The fighting erupted on Sunday when fighters from the Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab movement attacked a government barracks around Sigale in the capital's Hodan neighbourhood.
The attack drew a retaliatory operation from government forces, sparking an intense battle involving gun, mortar and artillery fire.
"Six are confirmed dead and 16 others were wounded on Monday," Ali Muse, the head of Mogadishu's ambulance services, told AFP.
The government claimed it had now secured the area but a spokesman for the Shebab declared victory, claiming the insurgents had killed more than 10 government forces.
"Our forces have regained control of a key position that was captured by the anti-peace forces for a day," police spokesman Abdullahi Hassan Bariise said.
"They attempted to recapture the position but we defeated them again on Monday," he added.
"The invading Christian forces at the presidential palace tried to deploy reinforcements to their positions... and the mujahideen have attacked them, killing more than ten," Shebab spokesman Sheikh Abdulaziz Abu Musab said.
"We are currently gaining ground in the Mogadishu battle and the claim by the apostate government that it recaptured one of the positions it had lost is not true," he added.
Due to the fighting in Mogadishu, access to some areas was almost impossible Monday and AFP was not able to verify independently who was controlling the disputed Sigale neighbourhood.
More than 80 people have been killed in intense clashes in Mogadishu over the past week.