UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
SOMALIA: Twelve killed in heavy fighting in Mogadishu
NAIROBI, 22 Mar 2006 (IRIN) - Heavy fighting between rival militia groups broke out on Wednesday in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, killing at least 12 people and wounding 70 others, local hospital sources said.
"Our estimate is that the death toll is between 12 and 20," a doctor said. "We also have more than 70 injured people in different hospitals in the city."
The latest clashes pit militia loyal to Bashir Raghe, against those led by his former mentor, Abukar Umar Adani. The conflict flared up when armed militia, reportedly loyal to Adani, attacked the positions of Raghe's militiamen. "Adani's militia attacked a checkpoint manned by Raghe's militia at Galgalato area [north Mogadishu] at 6:00 a.m. [0300 GMT]," said Hassan Ade, a local resident.
Adani is a wealthy businessman who controls the El-Ma'an beach area, which has served as Mogadishu's port since the closure in 1995 of the city's main port. He is reportedly close to the Islamic courts. Raghe is a member of a newly created Alliance for Peace and the Fight Against International Terrorism, which comprises several Mogadishu-based faction leaders. Other members include Muhammad Qanyare Afrah, Muse Sudi Yalahow, Omar Finnish and Abdirashid Shire Ilqeyte.
Adani and Raghe both belong to the Warsangeli sub-clan of the Abgal, and the fighting is said to be a struggle between the two to gain supremacy within the sub-clan.
Hussein Gutale, a spokesman for the alliance, said: "The position of one of our members [Raghe] was attacked by those who harbour militants and we had to respond." He said that agreement between the alliance members stipulated that "if one is attacked, the rest must come to his defense".
Abdullahi Shirwa, a member of Civil Society in Action, an umbrella organisation made up of over 12 groups in Mogadishu, said "what started out as a fight between two cousins had become a more dangerous conflict involving Islamic courts and the new alliance".
Ade said the fighting was a continuation of battles that erupted in early February between Islamic court militia and those loyal to the new coalition. More than 35 people were killed and thousands displaced. "The two sides have been confronting each other for the last four to six weeks, and it was no surprise that they started again," he said.
In February, Raghe's militiamen captured three "technicals", or improvised fighting vehicles with heavy weapons, from Adani's group and later refused to return them. Ade said that Adani's men had captured four technicals in the latest clashes.
The fighting was concentrated in the north of the city, Ade said, adding that both sides were reportedly reinforcing their positions and mobilising their supporters.
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