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New Clashes in Somalia Kill at Least 14

VOA News 12 January 2010

Witnesses in central Somalia say at least 14 people have been killed in a third day of fighting between Islamist groups.

The militant group al-Shabab and the more moderate Ahlu Sunna Wal-Jama clashed in the villages of Wabho and Warhole late Monday.

Local residents say the fighting continued into Tuesday, and has prompted hundreds of people to flee their homes.

Witnesses also report more fighting Tuesday in the town of Beledweyn, where Ahlu Sunna has been battling another Islamist group, Hizbul Islam, since Sunday. At least 13 people have died in that fighting.

Al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam are trying to expand their control over Somalia and set up a strict Islamic state.

Ahlu Sunna advocates a more moderate version of Islam and began fighting the militant groups a little more than a year ago.

Ahlu Sunna is nominally aligned with Somalia's Western-backed government. But the group has expressed frustration with the lack of support it gets from the government in Mogadishu.

Somalia has been without a stable central government for nearly two decades, since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

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

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