Source AP ©

Red Cross says fighting in Somalia's capital is the worst seen in more than 15 years

Insurgents shot down a helicopter gunship in Somalia's capital and mortar shells slammed into a hospital Friday in the worst fighting seen in this beleaguered capital in more than 15 years.

Dozens of people have been killed since Thursday, when the government and allied Ethiopian troops launched an offensive to quash an increasingly brutal insurgency by Islamic militants. A statement from the International Committee of the Red Cross said the people of Mogadishu are caught up in the worst fighting in more than 15 years.

More than 220 people have been wounded in the past 24 hours, most them civilians with bullet, grenade and other shrapnel wounds, the ICRC said.

Mogadishu resident Abdi Hussein Aboke said he saw 10 bodies in the street Friday, all apparently civilians.

"Some were lying in alleys between houses while others were lying on the streets," he said.

Earlier Friday, an Associated Press reporter said an anti-aircraft missile hit an Ethiopian helicopter that had been bombing insurgent positions.

"The helicopter looked like a ball of smoke and fire before crashing," said Ruqiya Shafi Muhyadin, who watched as the helicopter rolled over in the sky and went down in a residential area near the airport.

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