New fighting in the Somali capital of Mogadishu killed at least 17 people Wednesday, including a police colonel.
A police official confirms Mogadishu's police chief, Colonel Ali Said,
was among those killed, as government forces and Islamist rebels
continued their bloody power struggle.
Authorities say at least eight civilians also were killed, and at least 40 people were wounded.
Witnesses say civilians scrambled to find cover as mortar rounds pounded the southern part of the city.
A government spokesman says military forces attacked positions
controlled by Islamist insurgents after rebels attacked government
But a spokesman for the Hizbul Islam militia says the government attacked first.
Hizbul Islam and the Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab are fighting to topple the government and set up a strict Islamic state.
More than 250 people have been killed in fighting since last month and an estimated 117,000 residents have fled Mogadishu.
President Sheik Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, has introduced sharialaw in Somalia, but the hardline groups reject the move as insufficient.