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Two killed, 17 wounded in clashes in Mogadishu

From Mohamed Amiin Adow, For CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Casualties occur during clashes between government forces and militants
  • The fighting erupted in an area known as a militant stronghold
  • Military commander repels militants from new areas of the city

Mogadishu, Somalia (CNN) -- At least two people were killed and 17 others wounded as clashes between government forces and Islamic militants rocked parts of Mogadishu, Somalia, on Saturday, a local ambulance group said.

The clashes erupted around the city's notorious Bakara market -- a stronghold for militants fighting to overthrow the U.N.-backed transitional Somali government, said Ali Musa, director of an ambulance group in Mogadishu.

"Mogadishu is a city at an endless war. People can get caught in violence at any time of the day " said Musa, whose ambulance group plays a vital role in helping victims of the country's continued war.

Meanwhile, a commander of Somali government forces said his forces pushed Al-Shabaab militants from new areas in Mogadishu.

General Abdullahi Ali Anod, commander of Somalia's presidential guards brigade, said his forces attacked positions of Al-Shabaab militants and chased them from Howlwadag, near Bakara market.

"Al-Shabaab uses innocent teenage boys in their violence against us, so I am calling the Somali parents to keep their children far away from Al-Shabaab, otherwise the children die senselessly," Anod told reporters.

The violence occurred the same day as Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed described the brutality of Al-Shabaab and other insurgents during the annual U.N. General Assembly debate.

He cited several attacks attacks by Al-Shabaab, including strikes against hotels, a suicide bombing at a university, and in Uganda, a country that provided troops to the African Union to help the government.

Ahmed urged nations to continue to assist Somalia in training its forces and supporting the AU contingent.

"I call upon the U.N. Security Council to pass a strong resolution with the view to deterring the spread of al Qaeda terrorists and their home-grown affiliates such as Al-Shabaab," he said.