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Clashes in Somalia Kill At Least 30

20 April 2007

Residents in Somalia's capital say at least 30 people have been killed and at least 100 wounded in two days of intense fighting between insurgents and Ethiopian troops that support the government.

The fighting continued Friday, with the sounds of shelling and gunfire echoing around Mogadishu.

This latest round of fighting began with clashes late Tuesday that killed at least seven people.

Ethiopian troops have blocked off key roads after one of their bases in southern Mogadishu was attacked by a suspected suicide bomber on Thursday. The number of casualties from the blast is not known.

On Thursday, a U.N. official said Somalia faces a humanitarian catastrophe unless the fighting subsides and the government starts cooperating with aid workers.

Eric Laroche accused the government of preventing aid from reaching thousands of displaced outside Mogadishu. The world body is urging the interim government to allow aid workers to provide assistance to at least 100,000 Somalis in the neediest areas.

The U.N. says that some 218,000 people have fled Mogadishu since February 1.

The capital has been wracked by violence since late last year, when Ethiopian troops helped Somalia's interim government drive a rival Islamist movement from power. Islamist and clan-based militias have since launched numerous attacks on government-related targets.

The worst occurred in late March, when four days of fighting in the capital killed hundreds of people, many of them civilians.

The Horn of Africa country has not had an effective central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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