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Somalia battling militants over capital

MOGADISHU, Somalia, May 22 (UPI) -- In an all-out push to recapture portions of its capital city, Somalia and Islamic militants were locked in a major battle over Mogadishu Friday.

Forces loyal to the transitional government in Somalia lost control of about one-third of the capital to rebels last week.

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Ten days of fierce clashes between the pro-government forces and militant Islamic groups al-Shabab and Hisbul-Islam have left more than 100 people dead and displaced 34,000 civilians, the BBC reported.

At least seven people died in Friday's fighting, including a local journalist from Radio Shabelle.

"This is a large military offensive against violent people," a military spokesman said. "The government will sweep them out of the capital and the fighting will continue until that happens."

The 43,000-strong African Union peacekeeper team stationed in Mogadishu to support the fragile administration, remained on the sidelines reportedly with no mandate to pursue the insurgents.

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