MOGADISHU: An artillery shell struck a building where families had sought shelter, killing 11 people, part of a day of violent battle in the Somali capital that saw a total of 17 people killed Thursday, an emergency official said.
The shell that struck the building also wounded 22 others. Five children and three women were killed in the blast, said Ali Muse, the head of Mogadishu's ambulance service.
"It was a grisly scene. I haven't seen such a massacre in recent days," Muse said.
The fighting between Somali troops and Islamist rebels killed six civilians earlier in the day, Muse said. Twenty-one civilians were wounded in the earlier fighting.
Radio Mogadishu, the state-run radio station, reported that President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed visited the front lines. The station's website showed him standing near sandbags while wearing army fatigues.
Somalia's weak, U.N.-backed government is battling an Islamist insurgency that controls much of the country's south and center. Somalia has not had a functioning government in nearly 20 years.