Somalia’s Islamist militant group al-Shabab, accused of having links to al-Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in the capital.

The group’s political leader Sheik Husein Ali Fidow said a Somali teenager had carried out Sunday’s attack, which killed six soldiers and a civilian.

Meanwhile, Somalia’s president has asked for international help to stop foreigners fighting with the militants.

Some 60,000 people have fled the recent upsurge of fighting in Mogadishu.

President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a moderate Islamist elected by a unity government in January as part of a UN-backed peace initiative, said a government offensive against the insurgents would continue.

About 200 people are thought to have been killed since the beginning of May, as Islamist insurgents try to topple the fragile interim government.

The UN refugee agency’s Roberta Russo said an estimated 8,000 were displaced on Friday alone when the government offensive began.

“Some of the people had only recently returned to Mogadishu because of the relative peace since the beginning of the year,” she told the BBC’s Network Africa programme.

Mr Ahmed, whose introduction of Sharia law has not appeased the Islamist insurgents, said mediation by clerics had failed and his government had no choice but to fight on.



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