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Somalia's Al Shabab militants gain ground

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A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

Scores have been killed over the past few days in fresh fighting between Al Shabab Islamist insurgents and pro-government militia in Somalia's war-torn capital, Mogadishu.

The two sides traded mortar and machine gun fire for four days, though reports said calm had returned Monday. Some reports indicated that Al Shabab had tightened its grip over Mogadishu, a setback for the new government led by moderate Islamist Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. Reports also suggested that foreigners were fighting alongside Al Shabab.

Reuters spoke to an Al Shabab official who claimed his group had made gains in northern Mogadishu.

The agency also quoted one elder who said that foreigners – "long-bearded Arabs" – were taking part in the fighting.

The US has accused Al Shabab of having links with Al Qaeda, and is concerned that Somalia is increasingly a haven for terrorists, including those involved in the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in Africa.

The Somali government repeated those charges, according to Garowe Online.

An Al Shabab official told Garowe Online that "Muslims from across the world are fighting on our side."

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