Islamic insurgents and Ethiopian soldiers killed six people in two separate attacks in southern Somalia on Saturday, a police officer and a witness said, at the end of a week that has seen some of the worst violence in Somalia in recent months.
In one attack, dozens of Islamic insurgents ambushed and killed four Somali soldiers and wounded two others as they travelled to the southwestern town of Baidoa from Mogadishu, said Ali Aden Ali, a senior police officer.
Ali said the insurgents hid on the roadside near Wanla-weyn, 110 kms southwest of the capital, Mogadishu, and ambushed the soldiers who were part of a convoy of bodyguards for the finance and interior ministers.
The police officer said the finance minister is out of the country; it was not clear if the interior minister was in any of the vehicles. The convoy of bodyguards was made up of three pickups mounted with anti-aircraft guns, Ali said.
In the capital, a battle between Ethiopian soldiers and insurgents saw two civilians killed, said Farah Omar Ishaq, who witnessed the fighting.
The fighting began when insurgents surrounded a water tanker for Ethiopian soldiers parked on a road in southern Mogadishu and "turned into heavy fighting as more Ethiopian forces came to the aid of their colleagues. The Ethiopians fired mortars into the area, killing two civilians," Ishaq said.
Government officials were not immediately available for comment.
At least 38 people have been killed in three days of militia attacks in Mogadishu and three rural areas of Somalia.