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African Union Says Peacekeepers Urgently Needed in Somalia


The head of the African Union says more peacekeepers are urgently needed in Somalia's capital after more than a week of intense fighting.

Speaking in Uganda Friday, AU chairman Alpha Omar Konare voiced concern about the worsening violence in Mogadishu and the group's slow progress in creating the 8,000 peacekeeping force it has proposed.

He appealed for more contributions from AU members, saying they are needed immediately to secure the Somali capital.

Mogadishu's streets were relatively calm Friday as Ethiopian and Somali troops searched for any remaining insurgents.

There was was at least one incident of looting, with men in army uniforms stealing computers and other property from a Coca-Cola bottling plant.

A local group tracking casualties, the Elman Human Rights Organization, says about 400 people died in the past nine days as allied government and Ethiopian forces carried out an offensive against the insurgents.

Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi announced Thursday that allied forces had seized a large portion of rebel-controlled territory. He claimed victory over the insurgents in an interview with the Associated Press.

Ethiopian troops entered Somalia last year to help the interim government drive a rival Islamist movement from power. Insurgents began attacking government targets in January, soon after Islamist leaders vowed to continue fighting.

Some information for this report was provided by AP .