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10 Killed in Battle to Keep Somali Aid Flowing


A newly arrived refugee family walks into Baley settlement near the Ifo extension refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border, July 27, 2011

A newly arrived refugee family walks into Baley settlement near the Ifo extension refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border, July 27, 2011

At least 10 people are reported to have been killed in the Somali capital Mogadishu, as African Union and government forces battle militants to protect the flow of food aid.

Witnesses said the deaths occurred during heavy fighting Thursday - one day after the World Food Program airlifted 14 tons of food into Mogadishu.

At least 30 people are reported wounded as government and AU troops fought militants with the al-Qaida-linked group, al-Shabab, which has banned assistance from the U.N. food agency.

Witnesses say pro-government forces have seized the Suq Ba'ad market in central Mogadishu, the second largest market in the capital.

A spokesman for AU peacekeepers, Lieutenant Colonel Paddy Ankunda, says the operation aimed to ensure aid agencies can keep delivering vital supplies to starving Somalis.

The United Nations reports at least 100,000 Somalis have migrated to Mogadishu recently in search of life-saving food and water.

The U.N. estimates 11 million people in the Horn of Africa need emergency aid, as the region suffers its worst drought in six decades.

The world body has declared a famine in two sections of southern Somalia, both of which are al-Shabab strongholds.

The World Food Program is expected to airlift more aid this week to eastern Ethiopia and northern Kenya, near the Somali border.

Thousands of Somalis are streaming across the border to overcrowded camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.

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

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