4 Killed in Somali Grenade, Gun Attacks

The Associated Press
Sunday, July 29, 2007; 9:48 AM

MOGADISHU, Somalia -- Gun battles and grenade attacks killed two soldiers and two civilians on Sunday in Mogadishu, where the government is struggling to contain a violent insurgency, witnesses said.

Men with pistols ambushed the government soldiers while they patrolled a market.

"Three masked men shot the soldiers at close range and escaped in the melee of gunfire from other troops nearby," said Harun Omar Mohamed, a shop owner who witnessed the battle. He said two civilians were wounded.

Gunmen lobbed four hand grenades into another market, Bakara, which until recently housed the city's notorious open-air arms dealership. Two civilians were killed, said Muse Haji Aden, a store keeper in the market.

Mogadishu has seen little peace since Ethiopian troops supporting Somalia's fragile government drove out a radical Islamic group in December. Roadside bombs, attacks on government installations, assassination attempts and gunbattles have become common. Civilians often are caught in the crossfire.

Insurgents linked to the Islamic movement have vowed to carry out an Iraq-style guerrilla war until the country becomes an Islamic state. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the violence in the capital.

The government was formed in 2004 with the help of the United Nations, but has struggled to assert any real control.

© 2007 The Associated Press