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African Union forces intensify attack on al Shabaab rebels in Somalia

Stuart Price / African Union-United Nations Support Team via Reuters

A tank with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) advances as a battle group prepares to cross an area of bushland in the west of Deynile, north-west of the Somali capital Mogadishu on May 23, 2012.

Stuart Price / African Union-United Nations Support Team via EPA

Ugandan soldiers serving with AMISOM walk through a thicket on May 23, 2012 as a battle group crosses bushland west of Deynile.

Reuters reports — African Union and Somali government troops stepped up their assault on al Shabaab militants in the northern outskirts of Mogadishu on Wednesday, forcing hundreds of families to flee their makeshift homes and head for the city center.

The AU force, which already controls most of the capital, is trying to advance through the Afgoye corridor, once a rural area northwest of Mogadishu but now home to hundreds of thousands of Somalis uprooted from their homes.

Al Shabaab still controls swathes of central and southern Somalia but is being gradually squeezed out of its strongholds by Kenyan and Ethiopian troops who have launched their own incursions into Somalia, and is being pushed out of Mogadishu by AU forces. Read the full story.

Stuart Price / African Union-United Nations Support Team via AFP - Getty Images

A Ugandan soldier serving with AMISOM runs for cover during a firefight on May 23, 2012 west of Deynile.

Mohamed Abdiwahab / AFP - Getty Images

Civilians flee Afgoye, site of the world's largest displaced people's camp, as African Union and Somali government troops pushed forward their assault on al Shabaab on May 23, 2012.

Stuart Price / African Union-United Nations Support Team via AFP - Getty Images

AMISOM soldiers stand in front of an armored personel carrier on May 22, 2012, during a joint AMISOM and Somali National Army (SNA) operation to seize and liberate territory from al Shabaab in the Afgoye region west of Mogadishu.