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Somali government forces backed by African Union peacekeepers have gained new ground in Mogadishu, with at least five dying in the fighting, witnesses said Tuesday.
“AMISOM (the peacekeeping mission) and Somali government troops attacked Bangaria village in Hodan, which al-Shabaab controlled, but the area has fallen into the hands of the government,” a resident, Hawo Muse Mohamed, told Somalia Report. Residents said that at least five civilians were killed in the crossfire.
“Fighting began at dawn, and we could hear heavy gunfire and artillery," witness Mohamed Dahir told Somalia Report. “Two Bangaria residents lost their lives when mortar shells hit their homes."
Other witnesses said three civilians were killed by stray bullets in nearby areas.
There has been a relative lull in fighting in Mogadishu over the last few weeks, following on from a government push that took them right to the edge of the insurgent stronghold of Bakara Market.
The political chaos that saw Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo forced out as premier may have hampered operations, as many soldiers backed the former leader and were concerned that their wages may not be paid. However, new premier Abdiweli Mohamed Ali has vowed to continue the fight against al-Shabaab, and troops last week received payment.