Heavy fighting erupted Thursday in Somalia's capital as African Union peacekeepers launched an offensive aimed at protecting famine relief efforts from attacks by al-Qaida-linked militants, officials said. At least six people died and 39 people were wounded, including 19 AU peacekeepers. A medical official at Mogadishu airport said the AU peacekeepers were to be evacuated to Nairobi, the capital city of neighboring Kenya, to be treated of injuries they sustained in the fighting. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak with the press. The al-Shabab militants already have killed men who tried to escape the famine with their families, saying it is better to starve than accept help from the West. The World Food Program says it cannot reach 2.2 million people in need of aid in the militant-controlled areas in southern Somalia because of insecurity.