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20 Killed in New Somalia Fighting

New clashes in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, between pro-government troops and Islamist insurgents have killed at least 20 people and wounded at least 68 others.

Witnesses say the fighting began Thursday when insurgents attacked government and African Union forces. The fighting was centered in two government-held neighborhoods - Hodan and Howldag. Medics say most of the dead are civilians.

Militant group al-Shabab launched an offensive exactly one month ago in an effort to topple the government. Al-Shabab and another insurgent group, Hizbul Islam, control much of southern Somalia and most of the capital.

The United Nations will hold a crisis meeting on Somalia Thursday. Diplomats from fellow African Union countries say the situation is dire.

Equatorial Guinea's AU ambassador said Somalia is effectively "occupied" by terrorists. He said the transitional federal government needs to show it is united and engaged. The AU special representative for Somalia said the "lack of cohesion" in the government is undermining its efforts to get support for its fight against the insurgency.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke resigned after a long-running feud with President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. The president on Wednesday appointed an acting prime minister, Abdiwahid Elmi Omar, also known as Gonjeh.

Somalia has not had a stable central government since 1991.

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