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Somalis Flee Capital After Fierce Fighting Between Insurgents, Ethiopian Troops


Hundreds of Somalis are fleeing their homes in Mogadishu, and witnesses say fighting between insurgents and Ethiopian and Somali forces is spreading to new parts of the capital Thursday.

Doctors and witnesses say at least 22 people were killed on Wednesday. Another 92 people, most of them civilians, were wounded by stray bullets and artillery.

Wednesday's fighting erupted when Ethiopian tanks entered an insurgent stronghold in southern Mogadishu. Insurgents later dragged soldiers' corpses through the streets and set them on fire, as Somalis stoned the bodies and chanted in support of the Islamist movement. It is not clear whether the soldiers were Somali or Ethiopian.

Witnesses say the fighting spread Thursday to the northern part of Mogadishu, which had previously escaped much of the violence.

Ethiopia sent troops to Somalia last December to help restore power to the interim government. Since then, a mix of Islamists and clan members who oppose the government's authority have staged near-daily attacks.

The African Union has sent 1,500 Ugandan troops to Somalia in a bid to help the government calm the situation. The AU plans to eventually send more peacekeepers to replace the Ethiopian forces, which Addis Ababa plans to withdraw.

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

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