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At least 32 dead in Somalia fighting, officials say

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 13 people died in semi-autonomous Puntland and 19 in Mogadishu
  • This is the first time fighting has extended into the stable area to the north
  • The fighting was between African Union troops and Islamic militants
  • Al-Shabaab has ties to al Qaeda, is designated as terrorist group
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Mogadishu, Somalia (CNN) -- Fighting between Somali government-backed African Union forces and Al-Shabaab fighters erupted into the normally stable area of Puntland on Monday, killing 13. Another 19 died in battles in Mogadishu, authorities said.

In addition, 34 were injured in Mogadishu, said Ali Muse Sheikh, an ambulance service director.

Puntland forces and militant fighters from Al-Shabaab have for the first time fought in the semi-autonomous region in northeast Somalia, the more stable area of the country.

Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, the president of Puntland, claimed that his security forces killed fighters from Al-Shabaab during a fierce battle in the village of Karin, 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of the port town of Bosaso. Farole also said his forces captured Jama Ismail, who he said is on an international list of terrorists.

"We are fighting with Al-Shabaab and their foreign-allied terrorists, so I am calling on all people in Puntland to fight and defend their territories from Al-Shabaab," Abdirahman said.

The president accused Al-Shabaab of trying to seize the mountains in Puntland and the areas bordering the Gulf of Aden so the militants can ship more foreign fighters into Somalia.

The Islamic groups of Al-Shabaab and Hezbul-Islam are trying to topple the Somali transitional government in war-torn Mogadishu.

Al-Shabaab, which is affiliated with al Qaeda, is designated by the United States as an international terrorist group.

Somalia has been without an effective central government since 1991.

CNN's Mohamed Amiin Adow contributed to this report.