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Last Updated: Friday, 2 November 2007, 17:52 GMT
Heavy battles in Somali capital
Ethiopian troops
Ethiopian reinforcements were sent into the battle zone
Ethiopian troops supporting Somalia's interim government have been involved in fierce battles with insurgents in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu.

At least five Ethiopian soldiers and seven civilians have died in fighting in areas close to the stadium.

Eyewitnesses told the BBC that three of the soldiers' bodies were dragged through the streets by militiamen.

The UN says the city is facing a "humanitarian catastrophe" with some 80,000 people fleeing recent fighting.

Fatalities

On Friday morning the Ethiopian forces engaged fighters who have been conducting guerrilla-style attacks on them since the beginning of the year, in three areas close to the stadium.

map

The insurgents are loyal to the union of Islamic courts which were expelled from Somalia after briefly controlling much of central and southern parts of the country.

Local residents were also reported as having opened fire on Ethiopian forces, with eyewitnesses saying at least five of the Ethiopian soldiers were killed.

Hospitals report treating 11 wounded civilians but it is feared that fatalities may be much higher as many of the roads in the area have been blocked off.

Correspondents said that as the day went on the heavy fighting subsided, but sporadic gunfire could still be heard.

No fresh food

Thousands of residents have been abandoning the city since intense gun battles broke out at the weekend.

Residents flee Mogadishu in a pick-up truck (29/10/2007)
Residents are fleeing on trucks, buses and donkey carts

The BBC's Somali Service says that this latest outbreak of fighting has left the city without fresh supplies of food as vehicles have been unable to enter the city from the south.

Earlier this week international aid agencies warned of an unfolding humanitarian crisis in parts of Somalia.

This warning came as Somali faced further uncertainty after its prime minister, Ali Mohammed Ghedi, resigned on Monday.

About 40 aid agencies working in Somalia have said the fighting has cut off their ability to respond effectively to the needs of the displaced people.

According to the UN some 400,000 displaced people are now living in camps in towns outside Mogadishu, which include Afgooye.

Somali's transitional government is struggling to impose its authority on the country and its forces and their Ethiopian allies face daily attacks from insurgents.



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