SomaliPress.com

Somali Government Forces Launch Offensive to Retake Mogadishu

Published on Friday 22nd May 2009

Somali government forces and allied militias attacked rebel positions in the capital Mogadishu Friday morning in a bid to retake control of the capital, Radio Garowe reports.

At least four people, including a radio reporter, were killed in the clashes as pro-government forces clashed with rebels loyal to Islamist factions Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam.

Abdirisak Warsame Mohamed, a reporter for the independent station Radio Shabelle, was shot and killed in the crossfire, the radio owners said.

A spokesman for Al Shabaab denied government claims that pro-government forces retook control of two key intersections in southern Mogadishu.

The fighting is still continuing as the sounds of gunfire and mortar explosions could be heard across the seaside capital.

Islamist rebels took control of many government positions earlier this month in week-long battles that killed 130 people and displaced nearly 30,000 civilians from their homes.

Somalia's U.N.-backed government, led by Islamist politician Sheikh Sharif Ahmed as president, has fought for control of Mogadishu against Islamist hardliners since coming to power in Jan. 2009.

The government is backed by a 4,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force, which Islamist rebels say must withdraw before any peace deal.

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