updated 4/18/2008 2:30:34 PM ET 2008-04-18T18:30:34

Heavy fighting between government soldiers and insurgents killed three civilians and three soldiers in the capital Friday, witnesses said.

Witness Ahmed Nor said he saw the bodies of three soldiers lying in the road. An Associated Press reporter who lives in the area saw the bodies of three civilians, including a local restaurant owner.

The man's son, Abdi Rahman, said he believed soldiers mistakenly targeted his father. "They killed my father while he was in his restaurant because he had a long beard so they thought he was an insurgent," he said.

Thousands of Somalis died last year in fighting between Islamic insurgents and the shaky Western-backed government and their Ethiopian allies. The insurgents received support from Ethiopia's archenemy Eritrea after they were chased from the Somali capital in December 2006.

The impoverished country has not had a functioning government for 17 years after warlords overthrew a dictator and then turned on each other.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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