Somali news reports say at least 10 people have been killed during fighting between Ethiopian troops backing the government and Islamist insurgents in the capital, Mogadishu.
Witnesses say mortars landed in areas filled with civilians, and that several people also were wounded.
A spokesman for the al-Shabab insurgents said one of their top commanders, Abdullahi Salad Farah, was killed, but that many Ethiopian soldiers died as well.
Also Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he does not believe the time is right for a U.N. peacekeeping force in Somalia, because of the insecurity there. His comments go against the opinion of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She has called for such a force to deal with both the insurgency and rampant piracy in waters off Somalia.
The developments come amid a power struggle at the top of Somalia's barely functioning central government. President Abdullahi Yusuf has fired and replaced his prime minister, Nur Hassan Hussein, but parliament is rejecting the move.
Islamists, who control the southwestern city of Kismayo, have confiscated trucks carrying food aid. They say the aid discourages farmers from cultivating.
Fighting over the last two years involving Ethiopian-backed government forces and a variety of Islamist groups looking to impose Islamic law has killed thousands of Somalis and displaced at least a million others.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.