Clashes between Islamist insurgents and government forces in the Somali capital Mogadishu have killed at least forty people.African Union peacekeepers are said to have directly intervened to help beleagured Somali troops for the first time. The 4,300 strong AU force generally tries to avoid being drawn into battles with the insurgents. But it’s believed the peacekeepers responded when their positions came under threat. Since Ethiopian troops ousted an Islamist regime in Somalia in late 2006, at least 18,000 people have died in violence. Hundreds of thousands more have had to flee from their homes. The Somali transition government is begging for more help, saying more money and weapons are needed to turn the tide against the rebels. But, as is often the case, civilians are bearing the brunt of the latest fighting.