"We have killed 40 fighters from Al-Shabab group and we continue to repulse them," MP Salad Ali Jelle told Reuters."We have now pushed them back from three northern districts of Mogadishu."The fighting erupted in northern Mogadishu after Shabab militants captured an area near the presidential palace.An ambulance driver saw eight dead fighters lying on the streets and had picked up 16 wounded."Shelling into the residential areas is still going on," said Ali Muse of Mogadishu Lifeline and Nationlink Ambulance service."We do not have access into some areas."The clashes come after fighting on Saturday killed at least 10 people, mostly militants, in northern Mogadishu.The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the strife has caused "enormous suffering and massive displacement.""In this new wave of attacks, it is clear that civilians -- especially women and children -- are bearing the brunt of the violence," said Navi Pillay.Somalia has sunk into deadly violence after militants from Al-Shabab and its Hizbul Islam allied militia launched a deadly offensive in May against the internationally-backed government of President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.Hundreds of civilians are believed to have been killed and wounded, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.More than 200,000 people have also been displaced in the past two months.African TroopsSunday's fighting saw the involvement of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for the first time since their deployment in Somalia."AU peacekeepers were assisting us," said MP Ali Jelle."AMISOM backed us up in this latest operation because the rebels were only one kilometer to the presidential palace," explained Abdifitah Shawey, Mogadishu's deputy mayor.
"We lost three soldiers in battle."The Somali government has been pushing for a stronger mandate for the 4,300-strong AU troops allowing them to help its troops fight the militants.
Ugandan and Burundi peacekeepers are only allowed to defend themselves if attacked and protect key sites such as the presidential palace, airport and harbor.Residents said they saw AU troops in armored vehicles fighting against insurgents in north Mogadishu."I have seen early this morning tanks of AMISOM going towards the frontline of the fighting and after a short while we heard gunshots much louder and heavier than in the past days," said resident Ahmed Haji.Mohamed Hashi Gurey, who lives in the Abdiasis neighborhood, said two AU tanks were involved in the fighting."The tanks were firing shells at the rebels near (a hotel) and they advanced in onto the Islamists' strongholds."President Sharif is struggling to take control over the Horn of Africa nation from militants who currently control swathes of southern and central Somalia.Somalia has been mired in chaos since 1991, when warlords overthrew Mohamed Siad Barre and sparked brutal clan infighting.