Somalia offensive gains ground, but at high cost

(AP)

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — African Union peacekeepers who launched an offensive seven weeks ago have expanded their control of Mogadishu from just a few blocks to around half the capital. They’ve gotten so close to Islamic insurgents that the soldiers can hear them cock their rifles before counterattacks.

But the campaign has come at a dear cost. Officials tell The Associated Press that more than 50 peacekeepers have been killed, along with an unknown number of Somali dead.

The casualty rate is so high that the AU has not announced it, fearing repercussions in Uganda and Burundi, two countries that currently are contributing troops to the mission which is shoring up the weak U.N.-backed government .