15 killed in Somalia clashes

At least 15 people are reported killed and 23 wounded in fighting between armed men loyal to warlords controlling the Somali capital and Islamic court security militia.

    The fighting is said to be the heaviest in five years

    Witnesses and medical sources said that Tuesday's clashes bring the death toll to 33 and dozens wounded since they first erupted on Saturday, pitting armed men backed by the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT) - a coalition of warlords - against Islamic court militia along a road in southern Mogadishu's Daynile district.

    Mohamed Daud, former militia commander, said: "The fighting intensified in the afternoon, killing 13 people. The wounded are more than 23." 
     
    Two other civilians, including a child, were killed by stray rounds earlier in the day, according to a witness, who asked to remain unnamed for security reasons.
      
    Eight of the 15 dead were fighters from rival sides, according to militia sources. 

    'Full of blood' 
      
    Residents of the bullet-charred capital described the fighting as the heaviest in five years and a witness said the battlefield was "full of blood and it is very scary". 
      
    Tuesday's fighting, in which militiamen deployed rocket-propelled grenade launchers, heavy machineguns, small caliber guns and mortars, forced several hundreds of terrified town-dwellers to flee the battlezone. 

    The latest round of fighting
    began on Saturday (File)

    Eighteen people have been killed in the past three days and at least six flat-bed trucks mounted with anti-aircraft weapons and machineguns destroyed.
      
    The wounded were taken to the capital's main Medina hospital and others to clinics in southern Mogadishu. 

    Dispute
      
    The clashes erupted moments after the warlords launched the ARPCT, an initiative believed to be backed by Washington aimed at ending the influence of Islamic hardliners in Somalia.
      
    Critics have accused the Islamic courts, which have set up a form of quasi-judicial system in Mogadishu, of having links to the al-Qaida network.
      
    Western intelligence groups have long warned that the world's failure to support efforts to stabilise lawless Somalia risked turning the country into a breeding ground for extremism and have expressed concern at the influence of Islamic clerics. 

    SOURCE: AFP


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