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Deadly Battles Reported in Somali Capital

Residents of Somalia's capital say at least eight people have been killed in renewed fighting between Islamist insurgents and Ethiopian troops backing the Somali government.

Witnesses say the sides traded heavy gunfire Wednesday in northern Mogadishu in the Suqaholaha neighborhood. They say at least three Ethiopian troops and one insurgent are among the dead, along with civilians.

Tuesday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he is prepared to recommend sending U.N. peacekeepers to Somalia, if key conditions are met.

Mr. Ban said those conditions include an agreement by the country's major factions to cease hostilities and share power. He said another condition is the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops.

Some members of the U.N. Security Council have called for greater U.N. involvement in Somalia.

The Somali government and its Ethiopian backers have been fighting an Islamist insurgency for more than a year. The insurgency began after a joint Somali-Ethiopian offensive drove a militant Islamist movement from power in southern Somalia in late 2006.

The fighting has killed thousands of people in Mogadishu alone and forced at least a half-million others to flee the city.

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