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Somali Government Captures More Ground in Capital

Pro-government troops in Somalia have seized new territory from al-Shabab militants in the capital, Mogadishu.

A spokesman for African Union (AU) peacekeepers in Somalia, Major Paddy Akunda, says AU troops captured the area in an offensive launched last Thursday.

Somali officials say the frontline against al-Shabab has now moved closer to the Bakara market, a rebel stronghold.

Authorities blame the al-Qaida-linked militant group for a blast in Mogadishu on Monday that killed four pro-government troops. Officials believe al-Shabab planted a landmine that exploded at a mosque where troops often gather.

The Somali government and AU forces have made small but steady gains against al-Shabab since launching an offensive in February. The Islamist group has controlled most of Mogadishu and much of south and central Somalia since 2008.

Al-Shabab is trying to overthrow the United Nations-backed government so it can set up an Islamic state based on a very strict interpretation of sharia, or Islamic law.