50 killed in clashes in Somalia

July 2nd, 2008 - 11:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Mogadishu, July 2 (DPA) More than 50 people have been killed since Tuesday in fierce fighting between Somali government troops and Islamic insurgents, officials and residents said Wednesday. The chairman of the Mogadishu-based Elman Peace and Human Rights Watchdog, Ahmed Sudan, told DPA that around 47 people were killed Tuesday in fighting in Mogadishu and central Somalia.

Battles in Mogadishu Wednesday claimed the lives of at least 10 civilians as Islamic insurgents and government troops backed by African Union peacekeepers exchanged fire with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and heavy weapons.

Residents of Mogadishu and surrounding villages told DPA that shells landed in and around their homes, killing women and children.

The deputy director of the Medina Hospital, Dahir Dhere, told DPA that around 19 injured had been admitted to his clinic, including eight children. A two-year-old girl died of her injuries, he said.

Abdulahi Hassan Brise, police spokesman and commander of the Wali Yowade police station, confirmed the insurgent attacks but did not reveal how many soldiers and insurgents had died.

The fighting was the heaviest since Somalia’s transitional government and some moderate opposition leaders signed a ceasefire in early June.

The peace deal specifies that Ethiopian troops backing up the government should leave within 120 days of the ceasefire coming into effect provided sufficient UN’ peacekeepers have been deployed to relieve an overwhelmed and undermanned African Union force.

However, the deal does not embrace all of the warring parties and significantly does not include the Islamic insurgent group Al-Shabaab.

Violence has continued unabated since the deal was signed and civilians, who are often caught in the crossfire, continue to flee in numbers.

The Horn of Africa nation has been in a state of anarchy since the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Fighting intensified after transitional federal government troops and their Ethiopian allies wrested control of Mogadishu from the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC).

Al-Shabaab, the UIC’s armed wing, has been waging a guerrilla war ever since and hundreds of thousands have fled the vicious fighting in Mogadishu.

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