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8 Killed as Insurgents Clash in Mogadishu

Fighting between rival Islamist groups in Somalia's capital has killed at least eight people.

Witnesses say fighters from al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam clashed late Monday in the southern Mogadishu neighborhood of Labadhagah.

The French news agency, AFP, reports that six Hizbul Islam fighters were shot and killed by gunmen in a minivan. It says two al-Shabab fighters were killed minutes later outside a nearby mosque in apparent retaliation.

The two groups are fighting Somalia's fragile transitional government, and between them control most of Mogadishu and southern Somalia. The groups have been allies at times, but also have clashed over territory and other matters.

On Monday, Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed made an urgent appeal for military help at a summit of East African leaders.

The East Africa bloc of countries known as IGAD, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, pledged to send 2,000 troops immediately. The troops would bolster an African Union peacekeeping force supporting the government.

That AU force has helped the government keep control of key sites, including the airport, seaport and presidential palace.

Somalia has not had a stable central government since 1991.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.