12 KILLED IN SOMALI CLASHES


At least 12 people were killed and scores wounded in clashes between Somalia’s militant rebels and pro-government Islamist militias in the latest fighting in the anarchic Horn of Africa state, witnesses and Islamists said. Al Shabaab fighters and members of an Islamist group loyal to President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed’s government exchanged mortars and anti-aircraft fire late on Thursday along an industrial road in the Somali capital, residents said.

“The stubborn opposition attacked our fighters and the government soldiers on our side,” Sheikh Abdirahim Isse Adow, a spokesman for the pro-government Islamic Courts Union, told Reuters by telephone. “We killed eight of them and injured 30 others in one spot. I am sure more died. We also captured an anti-aircraft missile mounted on a battle wagon from them. From our side, four died and six others were injured. Innocent civilians were also injured.”

Al Shabaab officials were not available for comment. Residents said they saw at least 16 bodies and hospital sources said 55 injured in the fighting, including three babies, were admitted. “We have no hope of peace … I have not seen battle wagons fighting in Mogadishu for years,” said resident Halima Ali.

Ahmed’s government is struggling against a powerful Islamist-led insurgency and trying to woo other rebels over to his administration, which is seen by many as the best chance for peace since the toppling of a dictator in 1991.

SOURCED FROM REUTERS

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