Heavy fighting in central Somalia claims 30 livesSeptember 4th, 2011 - 2:29 am ICT by BNO News
GALKAYO, SOMALIA (BNO NEWS) — At least 30 people were killed and dozens of others wounded after two days of heavy fighting in Somalia’s Puntland region, local media reported on Saturday.
Heavy fighting broke out on Thursday after Puntland forces raided a place where armed men were allegedly hiding, according to the local SunaTimes newspaper. The fighting restarted early on Friday morning, claiming many casualties and forcing locals to flee their homes.
Some media reports said that at least 30 people have been killed. Local news site Garowe, however, claimed that at least 60 people were killed during the two days of intense violence, including 40 Al Shabaab militants and at least 8 Puntland soldiers.
A hospital in the town of Galkayo, supported by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), is assisting wounded patients, the organization said on its website. It said that the hospital has treated 60 wounded, most of them civilians, while a further 20 wounded patients have been treated at another hospital in the southern part of the city.
“MSF is extremely concerned about the high number of civilian casualties that this round of fighting has caused,” said Rolland Kaya, MSF’s Project Coordinator. “We will continue to monitor the situation up close and provide more medical assistance if necessary.”
In addition, there have been conflicting reports of who has been involved in the fighting. Some media reports said local armed clan militias were involved, while Puntland blamed militants linked to the Al Shabaab group.
“The fighters belong to all clans of Somalia,” security officials said, indicating one of Al Shabaab’s policies to recruit from all clans in order to wreak havoc across Somalia. As of midday Saturday, there was no fighting but residents feared renewed violence as Puntland security forces prepared to conduct “counterterrorism operations” in Galkayo, Garowe Online reported.
According to Puntland officials, Al Shabaab is responsible for a series of assassinations and bombings that have taken place since 2007 in Galkayo. They believe that Galmudug, a tiny administration in the Galkayo area, is a hideout for Al Shabaab militants and other criminals.
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Tags: armed men, bno, central somalia, civilian casualties, conflicting reports, counterterrorism, friday morning, garowe online, havoc across, intense violence, kaya, local media, medical assistance, midday, militias, msf, project coordinator, puntland, rolland, security officials