MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somali insurgents fired mortar shells at the presidential palace in Mogadishu killing nine people and wounding 10 others on Tuesday, residents said. A surge in violence this month has killed nearly 200 people in the capital and the international community fears the Horn of Africa nation, which has been mired in civil war for 18 years, could become a base for al Qaeda-linked militants. Mortar shells that were targeted at the palace killed nine civilians and injured 10 others around the former national theatre, behind the palace, resident Abdifatah Ismael told Reuters. More than 60 people have died since Friday morning when the government attacked insurgent strongholds in the capital. The latest killings happened as thousands of people fled the capitals Madina district after government forces and opposition troops started to flow into the area. The residents started fleeing and those remaining are in fear now, resident Saci Sacdiya Hassan told Reuters. Madina district neighbours the airport and has been one of the safest area for the last three years, sheltering battle-weary Mogadishu residents who fled there.