Fighting in Somalia’s Capital Leaves at Least 15 Dead

At least 15 people died and 25 were injured in fighting in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, that began late yesterday and continued this morning, said Ali Muse Sheikh, head of the city’s ambulance service.

Clashes erupted after Islamist fighters attacked government positions in the north of city late yesterday, Colonel Farah Ali Mohamed, a government security officer, said in a phone interview today. A separate battle broke out in the south of the city earlier today and involved mortar fire, he said.

“Our staff has collected eight corpses and 25 wounded people from late last night until this morning,” Muse said. “Almost all the casualties sustained shrapnel wounds. The victims included women and children.”

Seven of the people admitted to Mogadishu’s main Medina Hospital died from their injuries, said Marian Abdullahi, a nurse at the facility.

Rebel fighters from groups including al-Shabaab, the militia that the U.S. accuses of having links to al-Qaeda, have been fighting the Somali government for the past three years. Most of southern and central Somalia has been seized by the rebels, while President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s government controls only parts of Mogadishu.

Somalia hasn’t had a functioning central administration since the ouster of former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.