By Aweys Yusuf
MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Two Somali policemen were killed in clashes between government troops and suspected Islamist insurgents, and one official was assassinated in Somalia’s capital, witnesses said on Thursday.
Residents said the gunfight broke out inside a local market in the northern Wahar Adde neighbourhood of Mogadishu as suspected Islamist rebels armed with machineguns ambushed government police in the area.
"Two policemen were killed in the market when insurgents ambushed units of government police patrolling inside the market. I saw their dead bodies lying there," witness Mahdi Hassan told Reuters by telephone.
Somalia’s interim government and its Ethiopian allies are battling an insurgency led by remnants of a hardline Islamist group they routed from Mogadishu just over a year ago.
In a separate incident, insurgents gunned down a government official on Wednesday night while he was leaving a mosque in northern Mogadishu.
"Two men armed with pistols shot dead Abdulahi Haji Mohamed who was the deputy chair of Shibis district for public affairs. The killers escaped, but police are after them," Shibis district chairman Mohamed Abdi Ali told Reuters by telephone.
Activists say fighting killed at least 6,500 people last year and displaced at least 2 million more in the Horn of African nation.