Peacekeepers near key Somali insurgent stronghold

A spokesman for the African Union force in Somalia says AU soldiers are surrounding a key insurgent stronghold in the capital of Mogadishu.

Paddy Ankunda says peacekeepers advanced their positions on Sunday and are now on the southern and western sides of Bakara market. The market is the commercial heart of Mogadishu and taxes levied on its businessmen are an important source of funding for the insurgency.

Ankunda did not say whether AU soldiers would enter the market, a deadly labyrinth of winding alleys and tall buildings. The AU has previously said it will not enter Bakara but will seek to control access to it.

Ankunda says the AU wants to make the market peaceful so business can continue uninterrupted.

Somalia has not had a functioning government for more than 20 years.