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Artillery, Mortars Shake Somali Capital in Fifth Day of Fighting

22 April 2007

Explosions and heavy gunfire shook Somalia's capital Sunday, as Ethiopian and Somali government troops battled insurgents for the fifth straight day.

The fighting wounded at least four people and prompted more Mogadishu residents to flee the city for safer areas.

A local human rights group, Elman Human Rights Organization, says the violence that flared up Wednesday has killed at least 168 people, including 55 people Saturday.

Residents say the death toll could be higher because many bodies remain on the streets in areas cut off by the fighting.

Somali interim Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi said Saturday the fighting will continue until the Islamists are defeated. He also denied reports that Somali and Ethiopian troops are fighting clan-based militiamen in Mogadishu, insisting the battle is only against al-Qaida-linked terrorists.

Ethiopian troops helped Somalia's interim government drive the Islamists from power in Mogadishu late last year. Insurgents began attacking government and Ethiopian targets soon thereafter. The violence has prompted hundreds of thousands of Mogadishu residents to leave the city.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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