The African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia says it is trying to choke off a key funding stream for the Somali insurgency by pushing Islamist fighters out of the capital's main market.
Witnesses said Monday the insurgents have dug trenches in the market to trap the soldiers' heavy armored vehicles. They also put snipers atop tall buildings. Most traders have fled.
Monday's statement says two AU soldiers and around 20 insurgents were killed during two days of heavy fighting near Bakara market. AU force commander Maj. Gen. Nathan Mugisha says his soldiers hope to push the insurgents from the market soon, opening up a potential source of revenue for Somalia's government through the taxation of businesses.