Africa

Somali shell attack injures Koranic schoolchildren

Al-Shabab fighters provide security during a demonstration in Suqa Holaha neighbourhood in Mogadishu, Somalia, Monday, July 5, 2010
Image caption Al-Shabab has been fighting government and African troops

Ten children were injured when a shell struck a Koranic school in Mogadishu, during fresh fighting between Somali troops and al-Shabab Islamist rebels.

The assault by the al-Qaeda-linked group began late on Sunday, targeting government and African Union (AU) bases in the Bondhere and Shibi districts.

At least 10 people have been killed and 40 injured, rescue officials said.

A UN-backed interim government has been struggling to contain the rebels, who control most of southern Somalia.

The school struck by mortar was located in the Hamarweyne district of the capital - one of the few government-held areas of Mogadishu.

"The mortar fell into the building of the school as the children were preparing to go home," Mo'allin Ali Mohamud, a teacher at the school told the BBC.

"Ten of my students were seriously injured."

Resident Aden Haji Ilmi said: "As the insurgents tried to push the government soldiers in the northern fronts and approached bases of the AU, heavy shelling was sent to the rebel-controlled neighbourhoods."

Dahabo Nurre, a mother of six children told the BBC: "We kept hiding under the concrete buildings in our village for several hours because the shelling was untargeted and rained on to the residential areas."

The fighting was the worst since al-Shabab carried out the deadly bombings in Uganda during the World Cup final on 11 July.

Uganda was targeted because its troops are part of the AU peacekeeping mission in Somalia, which is protecting the government.