Islamist insurgents in Mogadishu exchanged machine gun and mortar fire with government troops and allied militias for a fifth straight day Monday.

The insurgents Monday fired mortars at the presidential palace and attacked a base housing African Union peacekeepers.  

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has vowed to defend his fledgling government and accused unnamed foreign countries of pursuing their own interests in Somalia.

The Somali government has previously accused Eritrea of supplying arms to the insurgents.

Witnesses say insurgents control several key locations in Mogadishu, including the national stadium, the defense ministry, and a police station. Somali Information Minister Farhan Mohamoud denies those reports.

The U.S. State Department on Monday condemned the attacks against the Somali government and called on all parties and governments in the region to support the peace process.

The United States and other western governments have expressed concern about foreign terrorists using Somalia as a haven.

The hardline Islamic insurgent group Al-Shabab and its allies already control much of southern Somalia. The government has no direct control outside parts of the capital.

Somalia has endured 18 years of chaos and violence since the toppling of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.