MOGADISHU, May 8 (Reuters) - At least 12 people were killed and scores wounded in clashes between Somalia's rebels and pro-government militias in the latest fighting in the anarchic Horn of Africa country, witnesses and militia said on Friday.
President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's government is struggling against a powerful insurgency and trying to woo other rebels over to his administration, seen by many as the best hope to restore peace after 18 years of war.
Al Shabaab fighters and those of an Islamist group loyal to the government exchanged mortar and anti-aircraft fire late on Thursday along an industrial road in the Somali capital, residents said.
"The stubborn opposition attacked our fighters and the government soldiers on our side," Sheikh Abdirahim Isse Adow, a spokesman for the pro-government Islamic Courts Union, told Reuters by telephone.
"We killed eight of them and injured 30 others in one spot. I am sure more died. We also captured an anti-aircraft missile mounted on a battle wagon from them. From our side, four died and six others were injured. Innocent civilians were also injured."
Al Shabaab officials were not available for comment.
Residents said they saw at least 16 bodies and hospital sources said 55 people were injured in the fighting.
"We have no hope of peace ... I have not seen battle wagons fighting in Mogadishu for years," said resident Halima Ali.
In another incident in central Somalia, al Shabaab captured 200 new recruits heading for police training in Mogadishu, a local official said.
"Al Shabaab disappeared with them into the jungle and blindfolded them. These recruits were not armed but I think they will not be killed," said Mohamed Barqadle, chairman of Buloburde district in the central region of Hiran.
Somalia, without an effective central government since 1991, has become synonymous with anarchy, and pickup trucks with machineguns mounted on the back are its signature image.
Thousands of people have been killed and one million displaced in fighting since Ethiopian troops ousted the Islamic Courts Union from Mogadishu in late 2006, making Somalia one of the world's worst humanitarian emergencies. (Reporting by Abdi Sheikh, Abdi Guled and Ibrahim Mohamed; Writing by Jack Kimball; Editing by Andrew Dobbie)