Renewed and intense fighting in the Somali capital Mogadishu has claimed the lives of at least 30 people.
Islamist militants bent on ousting the fragile transitional government launched mortar fire at the city’s airport just as the Somali president’s plane was attempting to take off. African Union peacekeepers responded with heavy artillery. President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed escaped unscathed but the hail of mortars caused casualties on the ground. Government and AU troops control just four districts of the capital, large parts of which are a safe haven for the Islamist insurgents. Somalia is the scene of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. An estimated 19,000 people have been killed in fighting since the start of 2007. Some one and a half million people have been forced to flee their homes.