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Fighting Kills 17 in Somali Capital

A medical official in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, says at least 17 people have been killed in fighting between Islamist militants and government forces.

Ali Muse, who is head of Mogadishu's ambulance service, says at least 45 others were wounded in the fighting Wednesday.

Mogadishu residents say insurgents attacked African Union peacekeepers, prompting soldiers to launch an artillery barrage. Many of those killed died when shells landed in the city's busy Bakara market.

Insurgent groups al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam are trying to topple the government and establish a strict Islamic state. The current government controls only parts of Mogadishu and relies on AU peacekeepers in order to stay in power.

Somalia has experienced nearly two decades of violence and lawlessness since the fall of the last functioning central government.

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