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Africa
'Hundreds dead' in Somalia clashes
Human rights group says 565 were wounded in recent Mogadishu fighting.
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2007 08:36 GMT
Somalis are continuing to flee the capital [AFP]
Recent fighting in Mogadishu between Ethiopian and Somali troops and armed groups has killed 381 civilians and wounded another 565, a local human rights group said.
 
The Elman Peace and Human Rights Organisation's count was the first full tally of casualties from what aid agencies said was the worst fighting in the Somali capital for 15 years.
Sudan Ali Ahmed, chairman of the group, said the toll would rise.
 
"There are still some wounded as well as dead bodies stuck in their houses where no one can go," he said.
'Resistance'
 
Meanwhile, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, a senior member of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), said the group was "part of the Somali people's resistance", and would defeat Ethiopian forces.
 
In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera, Ahmed said that the Ethiopian "occupation" of Somalia had increased support for the group.
 
Shiekh Sharif Ahmed says the UIC wants
negotiations to resolve the crisis [AFP]
But he refused to say whether the UIC had been involved in the recent clashes.
 
Sharif said the UIC was prepared to negotiate with the interim government, but only after the withdrawal of all Ethiopian troops and a ceasefire.
 
After shelling and gun-battles that destroyed whole parts of Mogadishu, two days of relative calm have brought some relief to the capital's residents.
 
But many people are still trying to escape and nearly 50,000 people have fled the city in the last 10 days, the UN said.
 
On Tuesday, fighters linked to clan militia and the UIC remained dug in behind sand banks and in the alleys of Mogadishu, witnesses said.
 
Ethiopian and Somali soldiers were watching them from positions close by.
 
Diplomatic move
 
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Diplomats from the US, Europe and Africa were also due to meet in Cairo on Tuesday under the auspices of the International Contact Group on Somalia to try to press the parties to agree a peace deal.
 
A small African Union (AU) peacekeeping force in Somalia of some 1,200 Ugandan soldiers has failed to stem the violence.
 
Many believe that it has encouraged violence by providing a highly visible "foreign" target.
 
Eritrea said on Tuesday it had urged Uganda to pull out of Somalia after taking the "hasty step" of sending peacekeepers there.
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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