Somalia, Neighbors Begin Push Against Militants

Clashes erupt in capital, elsewhere with al-Shabaab
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 24, 2011 2:19 PM CST
Somalia, Neighbors Begin Push Against Militants
Hundreds of newly trained Shabaab fighters perform military exercises near Mogadishu in this Feb. 17 file photo.   (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

(Newser) – Somalia, working with neighboring allied nations, has launched a coordinated offensive against al-Qaeda-linked militants that has seen fighting in the capital and two border towns involving Ethiopian tanks, officials said today. Kenyan troops were deployed to a border crossing. Dozens have died in the push this week against the al-Shabaab insurgent movement by 8,000 African Union peacekeepers and thousands more Somali forces.

In the capital Mogadishu, at least 39 civilians have been killed and more than 120 wounded in four days of fighting, said the chief of Mogadishu's ambulance service. Heavy fighting broke out last weekend after AU troops discovered a trench used by al-Shabaab— Somalia's most dangerous militant group—to move supplies and fighters. Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed said 17,000 African Union and Somali troops will fight until al-Shabab's hold on Mogadishu is severed. (Read more Somalia stories.)

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