MOGADISHU, Somalia, July 28 (UPI) -- Fighting in the Somali capital of Mogadishu between government forces and Islamic insurgents Thursday killed at least four people, officials said.
The attacks came a day after the U.N. World Food Program airlift delivered its first famine emergency food aid, the BBC reported.
Fighting was confined to the northern areas of the capital and was unlikely to affect the aid effort, witnesses said. Thousands of people searching for food have flocked into government-controlled suburbs.
The World Food Program delivery is the first airlift of food since the United Nations declared a famine in two southern areas of Somalia last week.
Al-Shabaab, the al-Qaida-linked group controlling much of the poor African country, has banned the U.N. food organization from its areas.
The BBC said fighting began just before dawn when government and African Union peacekeeping forces attacked an al-Shabaab stronghold about four miles from the airport.
Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda, a spokesman African Union forces in Mogadishu, said 41 insurgents surrendered during fighting. The weak interim government controls only parts of Mogadishu, including the airport.
In southern Somalia, local clans braced for attacks by militant al-Shabaab followers who had demanded residents contribute camels or family members to the militants' war effort against the government and U.N. peacekeeping forces, Shabelle Media Network reported.
When local residents in Middle Shabelle region refused to comply with the orders, al-Shabaab warned them to prepare for fighting. Witnesses said normal movements and business activities have been curtailed.