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Wednesday, 18 April 2007

11 killed in Somalia fighting

Mogadishu: Street battles in the Somali capital overnight left at least 11 people dead and dozens others injured, witnesses and health officials said Wednesday.
The fighting late Tuesday in northern and southern neighborhoods of Mogadishu between Ethiopian troops backing Somalia's fragile government and insurgents could be heard miles away. Some tank shells that Ethiopian troops fired in southern Mogadishu landed in the western part of the capital.
It is unclear what started the overnight fighting that lasted about four hours. Early Wednesday, Mogadishu was calm, with hospitals reporting a slow but steady flow of injured.
"Tuesday night's fighting exceeded in its intensity the recent fighting in Mogadishu," said Mohamed Jumale, a resident of the southern neighborhood of Ali Kamin.
"I saw three bodies of the same family lying in a partly destroyed home after a missile crashed into their home," said Hassan Abdi Saleh. "Three others sustained light injuries."
Abdiyo Mohamud Siyad, who lives in the Tawfiq area of the capital's south, said several shells hit her neighborhood, killing four people and injuring five others.
An Associated Press cameraman saw the bodies of four other civilians in a house near his, which was destroyed by a mortar.
Dahir Dhere, director of Medina hospital, said 21 people wounded in the overnight fighting, including an 11-year old girl, were brought to the hospital.
The Somali Red Crescent Society reported that 12 injured civilians were taken to Keysaney Hospital, which the group helps manage.
In the overnight fighting, Ethiopian troops fired dozens of tank shells into insurgent positions in Tawfiq, from the hilltop presidential palace, said an elder of the capital's dominant clan. Some of the shells hit areas in northern and western Mogadishu, said Hussein Farah Siyad, a Hawiye elder. Siyad compiles a casualty and damage report for the clan whenever there is fighting.
He said he had no casualty figures at the moment.
Somali troops backed by Ethiopian forces ousted the country's Islamic movement in December from Mogadishu and other strongholds. Remnants of the Islamic group have vowed to wage an Iraq-style insurgency and the capital has seen of waves of violence. The most deadly began in late March and saw hundreds of people killed, most of them civilians.
Diplomats have said, though, that also involved in the violence are clan militias that are not necessarily linked to the Islamic insurgents. Clan elders and Ethiopian military officials have negotiated truces in the past but these have not held for long.
Somalia has not had an effective national government since 1991, when warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on one another, throwing the country into anarchy.
The transitional government was formed in 2004 with U.N. help, but has struggled to maintain control over the country.
Associated Press writer Mohamed Sheikh Nor in Mogadishu contributed to this report.