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9 killed as African Union advances on militants

From Mohamed Amiin Adow, For CNN
  • Clashes involve Al-Shabaab and African Union peacekeepers
  • Nine civilians have died in the fighting
  • A mortar hit a public minibus, killing two
  • Somalia
  • Al Shabaab
  • African Union

(CNN) -- At least nine civilians were killed and 42 wounded as peacekeepers from the African Union forces advanced on militant strongholds in Mogadishu, according to a spokesman for a medical group

At least seven bodies and 31 wounded were handled by first responders on Saturday alone, said Ali Musa, head of a local ambulance group. Later, a mortar hit a public minibus, killing two people and wounding 21 others.

"It was a scene of misery with blood and flesh everywhere," Musa said.

Musa added that the fighting has sporadically continued in parts around Bakara market -- a stronghold for Islamic insurgents fighting to topple the western-backed government.

Meanwhile, Maj. Berigy Bohuko, spokesman for the African Union Mission in Somalia, confirmed that there were clashes between AMISOM forces and Al-Shabaab militants.

"We have destroyed three vehicles mounted with heavy guns from Al-Shabaab and, of course, all the militants on board those vehicles have been killed there," Bohuko told CNN.

Bohuko said AMISOM didn't sustain any casualties in the fighting.

"We have taken over new positions like the former Somali army hospital and our advance is to secure the city," said Bohuko.

The former army hospital known as "Isbitalka hooga" was a major base for the Islamists fighting in Mogadishu.