MOGADISHU, August 24, 2007 - Somali government security forces killed seven insurgents and lost one of their own in intense overnight clashes in the capital Mogadishu, said police on Friday.
Police spokesperson Abduwahid Mohamed said: "The insurgents launched two separate attacks on our security forces and there were heavy exchanges of gunfire. Both sides used heavy machine guns and RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades)."
He said the situation was quiet on Friday morning.
Mohamed said the government soldier was killed in an insurgent attack on a police post in the northern neighbourhood of SOS while clashes in a former military camp in the southern district of Shirkole left seven rebels dead.
Mohamed Dini Moalim, a Shirkole resident, said that at least three civilians in his neighbourhood were wounded when an RPG came crashing into a home.
Islamists launch attacks
He said: "They were preparing to sleep when the fighting broke out and a shell exploded inside their house", adding that they could not immediately be transported to hospital because combat was raging outside.
Earlier this year, Ethiopian troops backing the embattled forces of the Somali interim government defeated an Islamist militia that briefly controlled large parts of the country.
Since then, an Islamist-led insurgency had launched almost daily attacks against government targets mainly in Mogadishu.
The seaside capital, battered by 16 years of civil war, experienced a brief lull after the government forces swept the city ahead of a clanic reconciliation conference that kicked off on July 15.
The meeting was boycotted by the government's main Islamist foes and large part of Mogadishu's dominant clan, prompting observers to predict it was unlikely to yield a breakthrough.