| GEO World|
| Fighting in Somali capital kills 20|
| Updated at: 1557 PST, Monday, May 24, 2010|
MOGADISHU: Fighting between al Shabaab rebels and Somali troops in the capital Mogadishu has killed at least 20 people and wounded 30 this weekend, a human rights group and medical officers said.
Residents said al Shabaab insurgents have sought to advance toward the presidential palace for the past four days but government troops and African Union peacekeepers have been trying to repel them.
"More than 20 people died and scores of others were injured Saturday and Sunday," Ali Yasin Gedi, the vice chairman of Mogadishu-based Elman rights group, said.
The fragile Western-backed transitional government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed only controls a small pocket of Mogadishu, with the help of African Union troops, and faces near daily attacks from rebels.
Residents in the north of Mogadishu said government troops and rebels fought fiercely in Shibis neighborhood and that both sides suffered several defeats in back and forth shelling.
Ali Muse, an ambulance service coordinator, said at least 30 people had been wounded in the past two days of clashes. "Most of the people were wounded in and around Bakara market," he said.
A spokesman for the AU AMISOM force in Mogadishu said they would attack if al Shabaab, which has declared loyalty to al Qaeda, came too close.
"If the rebels cross the red line we'll act and they should know that," Major Barigye Ba-hoku said.
"The red line means any situation that can bring insecurity to the government institutions or our troops, and that is our mandate. We shall chase them if they come close," he said.
Sheikh Ahmed is currently at an international U.N.-backed conference in Turkey at which U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said international support for the government was the only chance to stabilize the chaotic country.
The fighting has killed at least 21,000 people in the failed Horn of Africa nation since the start of 2007 and driven another 1.5 million from their homes, triggering one of the world's worst humanitarian emergencies.
Kenya, which has twice been hit in al Qaeda linked attacks, views the situation in Somalia as threatening regional stability and has trained Somali youths to join their government's offensive against al Shabaab.
However, it has also been a haven for militants and Kenyan police said Sunday they had arrested two people they believed were training Kenyan youths for battle in Somalia and beyond.
Leo Nyongesa, head of police in the Coast province, said they had also seized jihad manuals, firearms, assorted military uniforms and recruitment and training manuals.
"We have arrested two suspects who are believed to be ringleaders in a recruitment exercise involving smuggling out local youth to fight in other countries," Nyongesa said.
"They will be charged in court tomorrow for being in possession of illegal firearms and questionable activities as we seek to unearth the extent of the recruitment in Coast region."