Somali shelling kills 16, wounds 25-plus

October 22, 2009 10:13:46 AM PDT
Mortars slammed into Somalia's capital Thursday, killing at least 16 people and wounding more than 25, Mogadishu's ambulance service said. Ali Muse, a spokesman for the ambulance service, said the shelling started Thursday morning. Somalia's capital sees near-daily bloodshed as insurgents try to overthrow the government and push out African Union peacekeepers.

Somalia has not had an effective government for 18 years, since warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. The warlords then turned on each other, plunging the Horn of Africa nation into chaos and anarchy. Many fear the country could become a haven for terrorists.

A powerful insurgent group with links to al-Qaida is fighting to overthrow the fragile U.N.-backed government. The extremist group controls much of southern Somalia. Somalia's lawlessness has also allowed piracy to flourish off its coast, making the waterway one of the most dangerous in the world.

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